353. Telegram From the Embassy in Jordan to the Department of State 1

7992. Subject: Next Steps In Moving Toward Arab-Israel Settlement.

[Page 698]

Summary: The following report gives our views of the current situation and recommends tactics in the next stages. End summary.

Here in Amman we have a definite feeling of having arrived at an impasse in efforts to reach an Arab-Israel settlement. We have reported the gloomy attitudes of senior Jordanians caused by the hiatus in Jarring’s activities and their increasing stress on the need for building up a stronger defensive military posture in order to deal effectively with Israel. Several of my diplomatic colleagues with good connections to the Palace and Prime Ministry share my own observations of the current purposeless drift in Jordanian policy—with its overtones of pessimism. The piece of paper handed to Governor Scranton by King Hussein (Amman 7822)2 graphically summarized Hussein’s own conclusion that Jordanian contacts with Israel, both direct and indirect, have failed to produce progress towards a peaceful settlement. The King emphasized he could do no more. In effect, the Jordanians are now leaving the initiative to others.
My own reading of the present situation is that the Jordanians (with strong behind-the-scenes support from the UAR and other Arabs) are also clearly putting a challenge to the US, and particularly to the new administration. In many ways it is an unrealistic challenge and their expectations for policy changes and new initiatives certainly exceed the possibilities. Nevertheless, the seeming impasse coupled with this Arab challenge and expectation require us in our own interest to develop revised tactics.
Aside from the fact that our present tactics are not producing progress, there are other reasons suggesting a change:
Time is running out. In many respects, not just psychologically, we are farther removed from a settlement now than a year ago, in the first flush of enthusiasm for the Jarring Mission.
Judged realistically, we are not going to get a nice tidy settlement that will provide perfect security and all of the usual trappings of international intercourse for Israel. After the wave of realism following June 1967 conflict, the Arabs in recent months have become less, rather than more, willing to compromise on the acceptance of Israel as a state with which they will entertain normal international relations. (In many ways the Arabs do not have normal diplomatic relations with each other.) I share the opinion of Amb Barbour, as conveyed to FonMin Eban (Tel Aviv 6153),3 that there is no possibility in the first instance of full peace and diplomatic relations between Israel and the Arabs. In fact, while we [Page 699] have waited and watched Jarring wrestle with this problem, we may have missed opportunities to settle for less perfect arrangements.
As seen from Amman, the Israeli Govt’s continuing inability to develop a consensus not only makes it unlikely Jarring can succeed but is the major stumbling block in the path of a breakthrough in the purely Jordanian-Israeli context of a settlement. More and more Israeli spokesmen seem to define Israeli security concerns in terms of acquisition of territory. The Israelis seem unable to grasp that the Allon plan and its variations are not only unacceptable to Jordan but that it also represents the kind of arrangement that would perpetuate hostility. Similar arrangements elsewhere during the twentieth century have demonstrated they are more likely to breed subsequent trouble and irredentism than to guarantee security.
The Israeli “clarification process” with Jordan thus has been singularly unrealistic, unspecific, and unproductive. I have been baffled (and indeed suspicious) all along about what the Israelis have told us but have assumed it was because I was not privy to closely held details. Yet, if we are to take Hussein’s comments to Gov Scranton seriously, then I think we must conclude that even if the Israelis have not just been pulling wool over our eyes, they have definitely moved too slowly and have failed to come to grips with the realities as far as Jordan is concerned.
Our assurances to Hussein (Amman 7548)4 seem embarrassingly explicit when, together with the principles of the Nov 22 resolution, they are put up against the position Eban outlined to Jarring early this month (Tel Aviv 6401).5 More ominously, however, the comments of Rafael (State 280109)6 indicate that Israel still has expectations that Jordan could agree to more substantial concessions on the West Bank and in Jerusalem than we have predicted. These expectations are unrealistic. Even in the unlikely event that Hussein did agree to such Israeli territorial demands, however, I question whether from our standpoint such an arrangement could constitute a lasting peace. Our assurances to Jordan and Jordan’s own internal situation place very decided constraints on the bargaining situation. At the least, Hussein sees our assurances as his final, fallback position. We must accept this fact ourselves and continue to make it clear to the Israelis.
I finally come back to the point that in stressing that “the parties to the conflict must be the parties to the peace,” we may have sometimes been bemused into forgetting that we are a very interested party, with high stakes of our own. The past year has demonstrated that if we leave this peacemaking process to the Israelis and the Arabs, there is going to be virtually no forward movement.
Unless we capitalize on the existing possibilities in the parties’ stated attitudes towards the Nov 22 resolution, we may well drift further into the situation that Hussein foresees: an increase in incidents, tensions, and extremism (which Hussein was careful to explain would occur “on both sides”). Unfortunately, the fact that this tragedy has already played to a full house for twenty-one years does not mean it may not have an even longer run.
In proposing revised US tactics, I am not suggesting US intervention in the meaningless or negative sense often advocated by the Arabs (e.g., economic pressure on Israel). Another consideration is that Jarring might be finished with the Israelis if he put forth his own plans. This constitutes an added reason for us to move ahead in a more enterprising fashion—to communicate a muscular sense of urgency—but in a manner that would not undercut Jarring. This can be done as outlined below:
During the past year we have not talked substance enough with the parties on a regular and continuing basis. We perhaps have been overly cautious about giving any impression of undercutting the Jarring Mission. At sporadic intervals in New York or Washington we have gotten down to the heart issues, as in the Secretary’s Nov 2 meeting with Riad. But there has been virtually no movement in the interims. Amb Barbour’s question whether to pass certain Israeli comments to the Jordanians (para 5 of Tel Aviv 6404)7 suggests a need to decide whether the Ambassadors on the spot should become more actively involved in an exercise from which we heretofore have been relatively detached. I believe as far as Jordan is concerned we have missed several strategic opportunities for more intensive, substantive probing and that these need not have endangered Jarring’s mission. Given the organization and conduct of the Jordan regime, inevitably we must deal with Hussein and one or two close advisers if we are to get anything done at all. I personally would like to discuss with Hussein, for example, whether he could seriously entertain the idea of Israeli security enclaves or security corridors on the West Bank, and where, and for how long. I would recommend ascertaining whether Hussein could accept [Page 701] some kind of phased withdrawal by which Israeli military enclaves, perhaps under UN aegis, might remain on the West Bank temporarily while a regime of peace and security was being established. Similarly, I think we need to elicit Hussein’s views regarding the Israeli concept of “open borders” and “free access” to the Mediterranean. We stand to lose more time and opportunities if we leave entirely to the Israelis the probing of the Jordanian position (particularly in the light of the exercise of the last several months which Hussein categorically says has failed).
I also recommend that we undertake more intensive discussions with the parties on the outlines of a pragmatic and honorable solution to the Jerusalem problem. This is a key. I think we should aim at a solution which, at a minimum, removes from unilateral Israeli jurisdiction the Arab inhabitants of Jerusalem.
I do not know whether there is a Washington task force on the Arab-Israel problem in being, but it seems to me the proposed shift in our policy and tactics would require a tightly controlled group in Washington to work full time on this problem in the same manner as has been done for Viet-Nam or Berlin. The mere formation of a task force would have substantive impact of some dimension.
Finally, I recommend that consideration be given to publishing or “leaking” specific and detailed USG views on what we would consider would be a fair and reasonable implementation of the Nov 22 resolution. I would see the objective of this frankly to put public pressure on the more stubborn of the three parties—the UAR and Israel.
Dept please pass Tel Aviv.8
  1. Source: National Records and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 ARAB-ISR/SANDSTORM. Secret; Nodis; Sandstorm.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 344.
  3. Document 326.
  4. Document 328.
  5. Eban met with Jarring in Nicosia on December 2 and told him that specific territorial proposals as a basis for an agreement between Israel and Jordan had been put to high-level Jordanian officials. Eban outlined the Israeli proposals, which closely paralleled the Allon plan. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 ARAB-ISR/SANDSTORM)
  6. Not found.
  7. The telegram citation is incorrect. The correct citation has not been further identified.
  8. A note on the telegram indicates that it was not passed to Tel Aviv.