232. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Jordan1

216436. 1. Ambassador Sharaf of Jordan called on Assistant Secretary Battle on August 6 and expressed his deep concern that the continuation of the present trend of events would make it increasingly difficult for King Hussein to justify his close relationship with the United States. He said that the recent Israeli air attacks had created a strong public reaction in Jordan. Almost all Jordanians believed United States could prevent such attacks if we wished to do so. In fact, the air raids had been carried out partially with US Skyhawk aircraft which had been delivered to Israel after Israel had occupied Arab territory in June 1967.

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2. The Ambassador said that Jordan had accepted the November 22 resolution in toto even though the resolution had included almost all of Israel’s objectives. Jordan had done so in light of US assurances that the USG would use its full weight to support the resolution. Unfortunately the Israelis had blocked the implementation of the resolution by arguing over modalities of agreement and the United States has not used its influence with Israel to bring about an agreement. The Arabs therefore concluded that the USG is retreating from its assurances, both in respect to our support of the UN resolution as well as our earlier assurances on territorial integrity for the nations of the Middle East. In addition to all this, the Ambassador continued, USG is now attempting to balance a few sporadic acts of resistance carried out by individual Arabs in the occupied territories with the calculated and destructive air raids carried out by the armed forces of Israel in the heartland of Jordan. The obvious disproportion between the provocation and the response has made the US posture appear insincere to the Arab world. United States actions are creating a situation in which it is increasingly difficult for King Hussein to justify his relations with the United States, and in fact, such ties are becoming more dangerous for the King in a “concrete sense”.

3. Mr. Battle said that he could dispute many of the specific points made by the Ambassador but this ground had been covered many times. He was now more interested in hearing any ideas the Ambassador might have on how the trend of events could be reversed. Ambassador Sharaf replied that despite our protestations the US could use its leverage on Israel. We had done so in 1957 and we could now withhold arms shipments. Both Dayan and Eshkol have said that they do not care about the rest of the world as long as the United States continued to back Israel. The US could also show more balance and understanding for the Arab position in the statements made by USG leaders. Even the Vice-President had recently made statements favoring the delivery of Phantom-jet aircraft to Israel.

4. Mr. Battle pointed out that the situation in 1967 was different from that in 1957. The rights and wrongs were clearer in 1957 and the failure of the arrangements negotiated at that time were a major reason for our present difficulties. It is also a fact that many observers could see a causal relationship between Arab terrorism and Israeli reprisals. Our position on both has been clearly stated and we still believed that the November 22 resolution and the Jarring mission offer the best opportunity to check the present unhappy course of events. Ambassador Sharaf said that he was afraid that the Israeli rigidity on negotiations and their policy of armed reprisals would soon make the November 22 resolution irrelevant.

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5. Ambassador Battle pointed out that the USG found both the Arab and Israeli positions on modalities to be unrealistic and asked why Jordan resisted the stationing of UN observers along the ceasefire lines. Ambassador Sharaf replied that Jordan did not trust Israel and believed that the Israelis wished to convert the ceasefire line into a permanent boundary. In any case,UN observers would not answer the real problem. The real problem was how to implement the Security Council resolution. The three “noes” of the Khartoum conference were a necessary concession to Arab public opinion and provided the framework which made Arab acceptance of the November 22 resolution possible.

6. Ambassador Sharaf ended the conversation with a plea that USG at least make some gesture indicating a greater understanding of the Arab position as we have already gone far down the road towards severing meaningful contact with the Arab world. The United States’ abstentions on the UN Jerusalem resolutions had probably hurt US prestige more in the Arab world than our arms sales to Israel.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Marshall W. Wiley, cleared by David L. Gamon (NEA/ARN), and approved by Battle. Repeated to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beirut, USUN, and London.