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

102185. Ref: Amman 3043.2

1. Department increasingly concerned that recent outbreaks of terrorism in areas of Israel near Jordan and on West Bank may lead to further escalation of hostilities. We are particularly concerned that incidents such as that of Eilat will strengthen in Israel the hands of the advocates of retaliation as an answer to terroristic activity. We have been persistently urging restraint on the Israelis but we are not sanguine about consequences if tempo of incidents continues. We cannot overemphasize the crucial importance of the GOJ’s doing everything within its power to restrain terrorist activity. You should again take up this subject at appropriately high level of GOJ drawing on the following as you deem appropriate:

(a)
USG deeply concerned over possible escalation of hostilities between Israel and Jordan sparked by terrorist activity.
(b)
We are strongly urging Government of Israel not to take countermeasures which could escalate into armed hostility between Jordan and Israel.
(c)
We realize that GOJ has been making a major effort to interdict saboteurs on Jordanian territory. We hope these efforts will continue and be intensified.
(d)
We commend GOJ initiative in suggesting talks on terrorism with Israelis and hope that some way can be found to hold these meetings. For example, would it be possible to arrange meetings along lines suggested by Tekoah in USUN 3411?3 Israelis appear to be dissatisfied [Page 121] with rank of officer who has previously met with them at bridge. Has GOJ given consideration to having higher ranking officer accompany Twal for preliminary meetings with Israelis?
(e)
Present period while Jarring consultations are under way is especially critical for future of area and it would be a tragedy for all concerned if actions of terrorists, although not representative of responsible Arab opinion, were to jeopardize chances of working out more stable relationships.

Rusk
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27 ARAB-ISR. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Wiley on January 19; cleared by Atherton, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs David H. Popper, and Houghton; and approved by Battle. Repeated to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, London, Beirut, and USUN.
  2. Telegram 3043 from Amman, January 19, reported on a conversation on recent terrorist incidents between an Embassy official and the head of Jordanian intelligence. The terrorist incidents which prompted U.S. concern included a mortar attack by Palestinian infiltrators on the Israeli airfield at Eilat on January 13 and a Palestinian attack the following day on the Israeli border settlement at Neot Hakikar. According to Jordanian intelligence, both incidents were the work of the Al-Fatah organization. (Ibid.)
  3. In telegram 3411 from USUN, January 19, the Mission reported on a January 17 meeting between Ambassador Pedersen and Israeli Permanent Representative Tekoah. In the course of the conversation, Tekoah stressed the importance of the direct contacts between Israel and Jordan that had taken place at the Allenby bridge without a UN presence, and added that such contacts were viewed by his government as particularly important in light of the terrorism problem. (Ibid.)