280. Editorial Note

On March 15, 1972, King Hussein of Jordan announced to a gathering of 40 to 50 members of the foreign press and “scores of Jordanian personalities” that Jordan would adopt a new federation plan once it achieved peace with Israel and the West Bank was returned to Jordanian sovereignty. Under the plan, Jordan—which would be renamed the United Arab Kingdom—would consist of two provinces: a Palestinian one on the West Bank of the Jordan River and a Jordanian one on the East Bank. Amman would serve as both the federal capital and the capital of the Jordanian province, and Jerusalem would serve as the capital of the Palestinian province. (Telegram 1112 from Amman, March 15; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1167, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East—Jarring Talks, March 1–31, 1972) According to the Department of State, public reaction to the plan in the Arab world was “largely hostile,” with skeptics viewing it as “a plot concocted by the US, Israel, and King Hussein to undermine Palestinian interests and achieve a Jordanian-Israeli peace on unacceptable terms.” (Memorandum from Eliot to Kissinger, March 22; ibid., Box 617, Country Files, Middle East, Jordan, Vol. VIII)

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Hussein had sent a letter to Nixon two days earlier to inform him of the announcement as well as of the details of the proposal. He wrote: “We believe the time has come, Mr. President, for us to enter into a new state which will be a further contribution to the cause of peace in our area, bearing in mind that an essential part of any settlement in our area is recognition of the identity of the Palestinian people who have existed for hundreds of years before 1948 and continue to exist.” He later added, “It is hoped that the new plan will also enable the Palestinians, through their responsible representative elements, to redress the wrongs done to them.” (Telegram 1069 from Amman, March 13; ibid., Box 1167, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East—Jarring Talks, March 1–31, 1972) The King sent similar messages to British, French, and Soviet leaders, Arab Ambassadors, and Arab leaders not represented in Amman. (Telegram 1072 from Amman, March 13; ibid.)

The letter to Nixon merely established officially what the King had already conveyed privately to the United States through secret channels one month earlier, as discussed in a February 17 CIA intelligence memorandum. (Central Intelligence Agency, OCI Files, Job 79B1737A) On April 6, Egypt broke diplomatic relations with Jordan because, as Sadat explained, Egypt would “not allow anyone to liquidate the rights of the Palestinian people.” (New York Times, April 7, 1972, page 1)