192. Minutes of a Senior Review Group Meeting1




  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
  • Joseph J. Sisco
  • Talcott Seelye
  • Thomas Thornton
  • William Lewis
  • Defense
  • David Packard
  • G. Warren Nutter
  • James S. Noyes
  • CIA
  • Richard Helms
  • David H. Blee
  • JCS
  • Adm. Thomas H. Moorer
  • Rear Adm. William P. St. George
  • NSC
  • Harold H. Saunders
  • Jeanne W. Davis


It was agreed that the NSC staff, working with State and Defense would prepare a compilation of all our obligations to Jordan and the status of their implementation.2

Mr. Kissinger: We have two problems today: the Palestinian options and the question of arms to Jordan. The state of play of the Palestinian question is that we have raised it with King Hussein who said he would think it over. Were there any discussions of this when he was here?3

Mr. Sisco: Only of a very general nature. The Secretary told him that: 1) we had made no policy decision favoring a separate Palestinian entity; 2) both we and, we believe, he himself recognize that the Pales[Page 674]tinians must be taken into account in any permanent settlement; and 3) that we would do nothing to undermine the King—that we would take his views into account and would work through him. I interpret this to mean that we are keeping everything on ice. We will keep the door open without pushing ahead.

Mr. Kissinger: Can we do this?

Mr. Sisco: I hope so.

Mr. Helms: The disarray among the Palestinians is even worse than when we talked about this earlier. It makes all the more sense to move cautiously.

Mr. Kissinger: Apart from the operational problem of what to do in response to Palestinian overtures, the real problem from a policy point of view is whether or not we have reached the point where we now consider that the Palestinian issue is no longer a refugee problem.

Mr. Sisco: I think we have reached this judgment. I think the King has also. We think we know what the King is prepared to offer at the end of line: very considerable autonomy to a Palestinian state or entity focussed primarily on the West Bank and Gaza, provided it is done in association with Jordan, under the umbrella of the Hashemite Kingdom, worked out in the context of the state of Jordan rather than at the expense of Jordan.

Mr. Kissinger: Would this be a totally independent Palestinian state?

Mr. Sisco: This is what Arafat wants—including probably eventually part of the East Bank.

Mr. Packard: Dayan would concur in this.

Mr. Sisco: This is one time when Jordan and Israel would be in agreement.

Mr. Packard: The problems arise in trying to move from here to there.

Mr. Kissinger: If we agree that such a state should be established at the end of the line, and that it should be done through the King, aren’t we precluded from developing a line on what we might do?

Mr. Sisco: We are committed to doing it through him but we haven’t given him a veto.

Mr. Kissinger: If we have agreed to work through him, we have given him a veto.

Mr. Sisco: Not necessarily. The Secretary was very careful. He said we would be guided by his views but stopped short of giving him a total veto.

Mr. Packard: We would have some leverage.

[Page 675]

Mr. Sisco: If a new development should occur which would make it desirable for us to respond to a Palestinian contact, we could go to the King and say “here’s what we want to do.”

Mr. Kissinger: He could say no.

Mr. Sisco: He could, but he probably wouldn’t.

Mr. Kissinger: So you interpret our commitment as merely to inform him first.

Mr. Sisco: No. We are committed to genuine consultation, but without giving him a veto.

Mr. Kissinger: How can we go about deciding for ourselves what is a desirable position for us to take, rather than waiting for a tactical situation to develop to trigger us into a decision on how to respond? Should we not decide what degree of Palestinian entity is in our interest?

Mr. Packard: We need a more specific idea of where we’re going.

Mr. Kissinger: (to Hal Saunders) What is the status of the Palestinian paper?4 It is a good paper.

Mr. Saunders: It has been distributed to everyone here.

Mr. Sisco: We think the discussion in that paper presents the most feasible and reasonable objective: i.e., some form of Palestinian entity focused primarily on the West Bank and Gaza, in association with the King, under the Hashemite umbrella and in the framework of the Jordanian state. The King’s views are similar to those in the paper. The question is how to get there. Jordan and Israel will have to work out the various alternatives in the course of negotiations. Our presumption is that Israel would have to agree to a West Bank border approximating the 1967 border.

Mr. Kissinger: Why do we have to depend on that? They could state that, whatever border is finally established, the West Bank could be automatically linked with Gaza.

Mr. Sisco: Theoretically yes. But the only other theoretical possibility is the Allon Line5 which runs roughly along the Jordan River. I can’t see setting up border posts on the Jordan River and still approximate a Palestinian entity.

Mr. Packard: We should be careful about being too specific on boundaries. Our objective is to get a Palestinian state in association with the King. An independent state separate from the King is not our objective.

[Page 676]

Mr. Sisco: I agree.

Mr. Kissinger: Suppose the King should accept the Allon Line? This is not our problem. It is part of the negotiating scenario between the Palestinians and Jordan.

Mr. Sisco: This is why we like the formulation “based on whatever border that can be agreed.”

Mr. Packard: We should look at all the things that might give some flexibility on the borders.

Mr. Kissinger: The idea of Jordanian [Palestinian?] sovereignty has its intriguing aspects. From the Israeli point of view, a sovereign Palestinian state would be the most worrisome. Also, the King might have a greater interest in demilitarization of an autonomous West Bank than of an independent West Bank. He could finesse the demilitarization aspect through autonomy. This formula has many attractive features. The only drawback is that it may not work.

Mr. Packard: Yes, but you can say where you want to go and then try to get there.

Mr. Sisco: I think the next stage of our discussion in this group should be on guarantees. We are preparing papers on this which we will suggest be discussed in the SRG.

Mr. Packard: What guarantees to whom?

Mr. Sisco: On the whole peace settlement.

Mr. Kissinger: If you’re talking about the whole question of guarantees—US, Soviet, international—we should be very sure of what we mean by guarantees.

Mr. Sisco: That is why I think it should be discussed in this forum.

Mr. Kissinger: (to Hal Saunders) You wrote a very good paper on this. Would you like to address any additional issues?

Mr. Saunders: Only that the bridging question to the arms packages is how much we should put into the Jordanian regime.

Mr. Kissinger: To summarize, the basic Sisco formulation is for a Palestinian entity, autonomous but linked to the Hashemite Kingdom under general Jordanian jurisdiction, including Gaza, the West Bank and whatever frontiers might be agreed. Are we agreed that this is reasonable objective?

All agreed.

Mr. Kissinger: So the question is how to get there?

Mr. Sisco: One of the next papers which should be addressed here is the overall strategy—how we should act on the assumption that the talks get started in earnest after January 1. We can talk about this on [Page 677] Monday,6 but we would prefer a little more time so as to finish work on the papers.

Mr. Kissinger: We will keep in touch on this. I see no particular sense in having a meeting on Monday if the papers aren’t ready and we can probably delay it. We will talk to you about it. If we are realistic in looking ahead, is it not probable that an autonomous Palestine unit would become independent?

Mr. Sisco: Yes, in time. There will certainly be heavy pressure in this direction. It is a calculated risk that in four or five years it could go further. They might start with the West Bank and Gaza, with an autonomous state linked to the King. But unless the settlement is holding and things have improved economically and they have got on with some development program, there is the latent danger of Palestine irridentism with regard to the East Bank. Any Palestine entity on the West Bank would have a flypaper attraction to some people on the East Bank, although the bedouins and the Palestinians on the East Bank as a whole are oriented toward moderation. No one can guarantee this. We must consider whether or not it is a good bet. Should we commit ourselves to the King on an arms program over a two to three year period? My judgment is yes—that this is the best alternative. The King is in a better position today than he was X months ago. I think it is a good calculated risk, particularly if we can get on with the settlement. A continued impasse would have a great impact on the King. I think it desirable to make the commitment.

Mr. Packard: What would be wrong with it? It certainly wouldn’t do any harm for the King to be strong.

Mr. Kissinger: If we talk about what might be wrong with it, let me be the devil’s advocate. What would be the impact on the military balance in the Middle East? No matter what we do, nothing seems to affect the military balance in the area.

Mr. Sisco: It wouldn’t upset the military balance as long as we provide Israel with the wherewithal. When Argov was told that Secretary Laird had committed us to a short-range provision of arms to Jordan and that we were looking at a longer range commitment, he replied that that was interesting, that he thought that was the right thing to do, and that Israel wanted to keep the King as a neighbor. He said they understood that these arms might be used against them, but they thought we had no alternative but to help the King.

Mr. Helms: Also, with Nasser’s death, there is very little strength in the area. We need to have someone strong who can hold his own and make any agreement stick.

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Mr. Kissinger: Another argument is that the Palestinians are apt to be irridentist. If they take over completely, which seems to be Arafat’s objective, we would be faced with an irridentist Jordan, armed with the equipment we had provided.

Mr. Packard: Also, the King might lose control of the Army to a radical group.

Mr. Kissinger: That is a third possibility.

Mr. Sisco: The risk is there.

Mr. Kissinger: Are you all in favor of the $120 million arm package?

Mr. Sisco: It is $130 million for three years.

Mr. Seelye: Between $120 and $130 million.

Mr. Sisco: This package reflects a considerable amount of close careful coordination between State and Defense and there is real unity of view. We operated on your expressed conclusion that there was no real policy problem and that it was a question of the availability of funds.

Mr. Kissinger: What is the advantage of a three-year program over a year at a time?

Mr. Sisco: We would have an annual review. The King is looking for some assurance. He is trying to reorganize his Army so as to meet both the internal and external threat. He wants a one-bite commitment to reorganize over an 18-month period. We have three reasons for prefering the three-year program: 1) it gives a general commitment in principle to the King and is reassuring and psychologically beneficial; 2) the one year review permits a reexamination of the program in the light of the existing situation; 3) it cuts down the amount of money we would have to spend at one time. The King has asked for $186 million over 18 months. We have proposed $120–130 million over three years. It cuts the amount, provides for the annual review, and gives the King a general psychological commitment.

Mr. Kissinger: What exactly is he getting from a military point of view? Are the prices realistic?

Mr. Packard: They are pretty good.

Mr. Kissinger: What is he getting?

Adm. Moorer: He is getting increased mobility, an improved tank capability, and better internal security equipment.

Mr. Kissinger: Is there a list of weapons?

Mr. Sisco: Annex 2 of the paper.7

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Mr. Kissinger: How does this compare with what he already has—in tanks, for example?

Mr. Packard: It upgrades his tank capability. Also, it provides him with armored personnel carriers which are particularly useful for internal security.

Mr. Kissinger: How many tanks does he have now?

Mr. Noyes: About 100. Many of them have gasoline engines, though.

Mr. Kissinger: So it doubles his tank capacity.

Adm. Moorer: It gives him better capability: longer range, better fire-control equipment, larger guns.

Mr. Kissinger: How many tanks does Israel have?

Mr. Sisco: About 1200.

Mr. Packard: We wouldn’t be giving him a lot of tanks.

Adm. Moorer: But he could move from Amman to the northern border without having to stop to refuel.

Mr. Kissinger: Would we have to compensate Israel? They would know immediately.

Mr. Sisco: We will tell them what we are doing. We told them about the $30 million package in Annex I.8 We won’t get any outcry.

Adm. Moorer: We needn’t worry about the Israeli reaction.

Mr. Kissinger: This $30 million is in addition to the $120 million?

Mr. Seelye: Not entirely. The King asked for $186 million. We cut that to $140 plus $10 million for replenishment of their losses, bringing it to $150 million. Secretary Laird promised him a $30 million package immediately. That brings it to $120 million.

Mr. Kissinger: We are giving them $10 million to replace their losses? Is the $30 million on top of this?

Mr. Seelye: No, some of the replenishment is included in the $30 million.

Mr. Kissinger: How much?

Mr. Seelye: I can’t tell exactly. The important thing is that we have cut his $186 million to $140 million for FY 1971 equipment. If we add the $10 million replenishment, subtract the Laird $30 million commitment, we arrive at $120 million in addition to what we are already committed to send them.

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Mr. Kissinger: Can’t we break down the $30 million between replenishment and other equipment?

Mr. Noyes: We can, but not at the moment. It is roughly 50–50.

Mr. Packard: For example, of the 14 tanks, 11 are replacements.

Mr. Kissinger: The annual review would give us some flexibility if there should be a dramatic change in the situation.

Mr. Sisco: It also lets us regulate deliveries.

Mr. Packard: And such things as training.

Mr. Sisco: We would have to try to do this with minimum American presence. The political repercussions of a lot of Americans to do things on the ground would be very difficult for the King.

Mr. Kissinger: How can we pay for this?

Mr. Packard: It would come out of next year’s budget. We are getting $30 million from the MAP supplemental.

Mr. Seelye: We need an additional $30 million to finish off the requirements for FY 1971. We could go for an additional supplemental for Jordan, a combination of MAP grant and supporting assistance, or work through Section 506 of the Foreign Assistance Act, taking the equipment from Defense stocks on a grant basis. Or we could steal MAP assistance from some other country. There is still another increment of the 1970 package that we haven’t talked about yet. Much of this is already being delivered and the King has paid us only $2 million.

Mr. Helms: We did a good piece recently on the Jordan economy—it explains their predicament.

Mr. Sisco: We are trying to meet a liquidity problem.

Mr. Kissinger: (to Hal Saunders) Will you put together a paper on all our obligations to Jordan—what we are shipping under what categories. The next step will be to get a proposal which we can consider and then move forward to the President.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–111, Senior Review Group, SRG Minutes Originals 1970. Secret. All brackets are in the original except “[Palestinian?]”, added for clarity. The meeting was held in the White House Situation Room.
  2. The compilation took the form of a January 18, 1971, memorandum from Rogers to Nixon, “Recommendations and Options Re Jordan Arms Requests,” plus annexes, which Kissinger forwarded to the President on February 19. On March 1, Nixon initialed his approval of the recommendations. National Security Decision Memorandum 100, issued by Kissinger to Rogers, Laird, and Helms on March 1, provided for $141.8 million in arms to Jordan over the next three fiscal years, plus $9.7 million to replenish battle losses. (Ibid., Box 616, Country Files, Middle East, Jordan, Vol. VII)
  3. See Document 189.
  4. See Document 182.
  5. See footnote 8, Document 4.
  6. December 21. The next SRG meeting was held on January 11, 1971; see Document 195.
  7. The annex to the paper summarized in Document 191.
  8. “Survey Team’s Proposed USG Arms Package FY 71–FY 74,” undated; attached to the paper summarized in Document 191. A copy is attached to Rogers’s January 11 memorandum to Nixon; see footnote 2 above.