328. Paper by William B. Quandt of the National Security Council Staff1


For the President

Jordan and the Palestinians: Prior to Secretary Kissinger’s visit to Jordan yesterday,2 King Hussein made quick trips to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and Syria to discuss Jordan’s position toward the Palestinians and the West Bank. The King is worried that pressure is mounting for an independent Palestinian role in peace negotiations.3 [Page 915]Egypt and the Soviet Union have shown signs of supporting the creation of a Palestinian state on the West Bank and in Gaza and some fedayeen leaders reportedly favor this position.

King Hussein found general understanding for Jordan’s role in negotiating to recover the West Bank, but the Saudis and Syrians encouraged him to allow the Palestinians autonomy or self-determination once Israeli withdrawal is achieved. In reflecting on his talks, the King indicated that he realized that he could not speak for all Palestinians. Consequently, he is thinking that it might make sense for a referendum to be held among Palestinians on the West Bank and in Gaza after Israeli withdrawal to allow the Palestinians to choose between independence and association with Jordan.4

The King’s thinking is still at an early stage on this issue, but he is clearly sensitive to how the Palestinian question will be dealt with in negotiations. One of the remarkable developments of the past few weeks has been Syria’s rapprochement with Jordan, so that now President Asad appears to be supporting King Hussein’s role as representative of the Palestinians in negotiations, whereas Egypt has yet to take a clear position on this issue.5

[Page 916]


TDFIRDB–315/10890–73, 8 November 1973

TDFIRDB–315/10886–73, 7 November 1973

TDFIRDB–315/10887–73, 7 November 19736

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1178, Harold H. Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, November 6–10, 1973. Secret. Submitted for inclusion in the President’s November 9 briefing.
  2. See Document 331.
  3. Telegram 9027 from Tel Aviv, November 8, reported that Meir had made clear Israel’s adamant opposition to a separate Palestinian delegation in any future peace negotiations. She noted, however, that Palestinians might properly be included in the Jordanian delegation but said that was up to King Hussein and the Palestinians. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)
  4. A November 7 intelligence report relayed statements by PLO leader Yasir Arafat that indicated that the PLO’s policy toward Jordan was “live and let live” and that the Arab unity established during the war was more important than individual differences. Jordan had to accede to a Palestinian entity, however, because all other Arab states wanted this. The PLO was prepared to accept the concept of a Palestinian entity comprised of the West Bank, Gaza, and Hammah, but this concept would be meaningless unless the United States also supported it. Arafat noted that the two superpowers could ensure that this entity remained demilitarized so it should not bother the Israelis. He added that the old “all or nothing” policy and a democratic Jewish/Arab state were no longer political realities. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 40, Kissinger Trip Files, HAK Trip—Mideast, Islamabad, Peking, Tokyo, Seoul, State Cables, Nov. 5–16, 1973 [2 of 2])
  5. Telegram 1278 from Jerusalem, November 8, warned that the question of who would negotiate for the Palestinians and the question of a separate Palestinian state or return to Jordan might become “real issues” during the forthcoming peace negotiations. It advised that U.S. interests would be best served by Hussein negotiating the return of the West Bank to Jordan. A separate Palestinian state would not represent a final and definitive solution and would leave openings for continuing instability. The United States should try to persuade Arab governments and the Soviets not to allow a stalemate to arise in which the Palestinians sent a negotiating team with which the Israelis would refuse to deal. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)
  6. None printed.