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

117102. Ref: Amman 3373,2 Tel Aviv 2481.3

In light dangerous situation in Jordan Valley, Department strongly favors meeting between Israeli and Jordanian military at higher level than Colonel to establish more effective means of communication between two armies for use inter alia in arranging ceasefires and possibly for controlling terrorism. Along with stationing of UN observers in Jordan Valley, we feel such a meeting could make significant contribution to defusing of situation. Accordingly, we request following courses of action:
For Embassy Tel Aviv. You should inform GOI that we are urging Government of Jordan to accept meeting with Israelis between officers of General rank. As Israelis aware, such a meeting presents serious political risk for Jordan. We consequently urge Israeli acceptance of meeting with UN officer present. We cannot see how this could in any way jeopardize Israeli position and it presumably would make meeting which Israelis and Jordanians desire possible.4
For Amman. You should urge Jordanians to appoint officer of General rank to meet with Israelis in presence UN officer. You may inform [Page 176] GOJ that we are urging Israelis to accept UN presence at meeting.5
For USUN. Suggest Goldberg inform Bunche of our intended approaches to GOI and GOJ. He may wish to inform General Bull. Assume Bunche will appreciate sensitivity of efforts to establish such high-level talks, particularly from point of view of Jordan.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL ISR-JORDAN. Secret; Priority; Nodis. Drafted by Houghton on February 16; cleared by Sisco, Battle, and Bahti; and approved by Davies. Also sent to Tel Aviv and to USUN.
  2. In telegram 3373 from Amman, February 12, the Embassy reported that the Jordanian Government received an emissary from the Israeli Government who asked why Colonel Muhammad Daoud, who had previously handled liaison matters with the Israeli military, had not assumed the liaison function at the Allenby Bridge. The Embassy noted that Daoud was sick, but added that King Hussein was concerned about an adverse public reaction if he were to engage in the type of direct contact the Israelis were proposing. He did not feel that such talks could be kept secret for long. (Ibid.)
  3. Telegram 2481 from Tel Aviv, February 11, reported that the Israeli Government sent an emissary to Amman to propose direct discussions at the Chief of Staff level concerning the terrorism problem. (Ibid.)
  4. Barbour made this suggestion in a conversation with Bitan of the Foreign Office. Bitan’s response was that a UN presence at talks between Israeli and Jordanian military officers would cause them to speak for the record rather than seriously address problems. (Telegram 2559 from Tel Aviv, February 17; ibid., POL ARAB-ISR)
  5. Symmes questioned whether the Department wanted him to suggest the appointment of a general officer to King Hussein. Unless the Israelis were prepared to accept a UN presence at the proposed talks, he did not think that Hussein would agree. He suggested that Colonel Daoud might prove to be the best the Israelis could expect as an effective point of contact with the King. (Telegram 3479 from Amman, February 17; ibid., POL ISR-JORDAN)