282. Editorial Note

On March 21, 1972, Prime Minister Golda Meir and King Hussein held a secret meeting to discuss their respective requirements for a peace agreement between Israel and Jordan. The meeting was originally scheduled for March 16, but Meir cancelled it to protest the Jordanian federation plan that the King had announced on March 15. After Hussein opened the discussion by explaining his reasons for restructuring Jordan, she replied that she was “shocked” when she had heard about his proposal, especially because “Israel was not even mentioned” and because, by her interpretation, it “would lead to the eventual liquidation” of her country. She later characterized both the territorial aspects of the plan and its position on Jerusalem as “unacceptable,” describing the section on Jerusalem as “a tale of horror” and adding that the subject was “not up for discussion.”

They both listed the principles on which they were unwilling to compromise. Meir said: 1) “Under no conditions will we return to the boundaries of 1967”; 2) “Secretary Rogers’s proposals are totally unacceptable”; 3) “Minor border rectifications are out of the question”; and 4) “Jerusalem must be a unified city, although Jordan can control the [Page 991] Arab holy places.” Hussein responded that he did not agree with the Prime Minister’s proposals and listed his own requirements: 1) “A return to the situation as it existed prior to 1967”; 2) “A complete separation and secession of the West Bank”; and 3) “The establishment of the UAK, which I have proposed.” He said that the last point was “the only logical solution for our people” and also remarked, “I cannot tell my people to give up Jerusalem.”

The discussion then turned to the issue of basic cooperation over the near term. Meir asked Hussein if he was prepared to: 1) “Keep Jordan out of any eastern front command”; 2) “Not allow Syrian or Iraqi troops in Jordan”; 3) “Keep the fedayeen out of Jordan”; and 4) “Continue cooperation with us on contingency planning as before.” She added, “This is the best we can do.” Hussein replied, “Can’t we work jointly to arrive at peace?” to which Meir said, “We can’t accept your paper.” The conversation concluded with Hussein asking Meir when Israel would provide Jordan with a plan of its own for a settlement between their two countries. The Prime Minister did not offer a time but instead answered: “We will produce a plan outlining the principles and designs which we consider the basis for a settlement. But one final word, Your Majesty, when you are in Washington the question of the Jarring negotiations is bound to come up. Negotiations through Jarring will not lead to anything. The only way we are going to reach a peaceful settlement is through direct negotiations.” (Attachment A to a memorandum from Helms to Nixon, March 24; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President’s Office Files, Box 16, President’s Handwriting)