176. Paper Prepared by the National Security Council Staff1


U.S. Policy Toward the Palestinians

The State paper begins (Pages 1–3) by explaining why we are now showing renewed concern for the Palestinians—their ability to affect chances for a settlement affects U.S. interest, including a settlement and the stability of friendly Near Eastern states.

The paper notes (pages 4–5) but does not describe in detail the idea of a “Palestinian entity”—ranging from local autonomy on the West Bank or a Palestinian-dominated East Bank in the absence of peace and from a new Palestinian West Bank state on the West Bank or a Palestinian dominated Jordan (and maybe Gaza) in connection with a peace settlement.

The paper describes (page 6) the problems of dealing with the Palestinians—principally their uncertain leadership and our lack of something precise to say to them.

It outlines but in this draft does not try to resolve (pages 7–9) several policy questions:

1. Do we still believe that Hussein is the force most likely to bring peace to the Jordan-Israel front, or do we now believe that the Palestinians must be given a stronger or perhaps dominant voice?

2. Is continued commitment to the integrity of Jordan as now constituted an overriding U.S. interest, or are we prepared to expose Hussein and Jordan to considerable danger as part of the price for dealing with the Palestinians?

3. Are we prepared to press Israel to help in the creation of a Palestinian state?

4. Would a Palestinian state contribute to peace and stability or be irredentist, militant and destabilizing?

5. Is there in fact a “moderate” Palestinian majority that can be mobilized for a settlement?

The paper then notes (pages 10–12) a range of approaches which could be followed separately or in combination. These begin from a [Page 598] base of continuing present policy of working through Hussein but with slight expansion of informal contacts with the Palestinians and move toward trying to deal separately and officially with the Palestinians. The range includes:

1. Try to involve Palestinians in the peacemaking process by expanding Jarring’s mandate to include contacts with Palestinians.

2. Encourage representatives of Palestinian organizations to become actively engaged in functional UN activities (UNRWA, UNDP, WHO, ILO) relating to Palestinian interests.

3. Let Palestinians know the U.S. is interested in contact with Palestinian leaders who could speak for Palestinian interests in an international dialogue.

4. Same as 3 but achieved through Arab governments like Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Kuwait.

5. Choose a Palestinian leader or organization for direct contact.

6. Same as 5 with West Bank Palestinian leaders.

7. Make a public statement specifically recognizing the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.

Critique: This is really just an outline so far. The point to emphasize in the next draft is discussion of how U.S. interests would be affected by various Palestinian solutions. Until we know where we want to go, the question of increased contacts does not arise in any serious way.

You will receive separately a Saunders memo going into the issues in much greater detail.2 At this meeting, the purpose is to show interest in the basic issues to make them the main focus for the next draft of the paper.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–048, Senior Review Group Meetings, Senior Review Group—Future Mid-East Options 10/26/70. Secret; Nodis. The paper on which this summary is based, “U.S. Policy Toward the Palestinians,” October 22, is ibid.
  2. Not found.