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64. Memorandum From Harold H. Saunders of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

SUBJECT

  • Jordan–Israel Developments

Earlier this month Prime Minister Meir asked to meet with King Hussein.2 The meeting took place in Tel Aviv, with Dayan and Zayd Rafai also participating. Hussein assumed that Dayan’s inclusion may indicate that Mrs. Meir is preparing him for more regular participation in these meetings in the future. At the meeting Dayan was more friendly and responsive, according to Hussein, than in their one previous encounter.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the situation in the Middle East. Political issues between Jordan and Israel were not discussed. Hussein has told us that he will not discuss matters involving a settlement until he knows what direction President Nixon would like him to take.

In discussing Lebanon, Mrs. Meir confirmed that Israel is in contact with the Lebanese and has tried to be helpful during the recent crisis. She believed the Syrians would not intervene out of fear of Israeli retaliation.

The Israelis reportedly agreed with King Hussein that Egypt and Syria might be planning some military action, perhaps to coincide with the UN debate later this month or the US–Soviet summit. Mrs. Meir apparently stated her belief that the Soviets desire a peaceful political settlement in the area and will use their influence on their clients, especially Syria, to discourage any military ventures. Dayan thought Egypt might be capable of limited military action, but that the Israeli counter attack would leave Egypt with worse lines than it has now.

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Both sides explained their intentions toward each other in the event of renewed hostilities. Hussein requested regular aerial photo coverage to keep abreast of Syrian and Egyptian military movements. Hussein indicated that Jordan has plans for preemptive strikes in the event of threatening troop movements.

King Hussein complained of new Israeli taxes on West Bank residents. Mrs. Meir agreed that the Arabs were not getting their fair share of services and that this situation would be corrected. Increased exchange of intelligence on the fedayeen was discussed.

The King was generally pleased with the meeting and feels that as long as there is no progress toward a settlement these exchanges are most useful.

Both Mrs. Meir and the King mentioned their close ties to the White House and their reluctance to deal with the State Department.

Comment: There is little new of substance in this account, but you may want to make special note of Mrs. Meir’s somewhat surprising views on Soviet interests in a peaceful settlement. We have received some collateral information on Soviet efforts to restrain the Syrians from joining in a renewal of war with Israel.

No action is required in response to this information. The attached copies3 are for your files.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 618, Country Files, Middle East, Jordan, IX, January–October 1973. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Kissinger initialed the memorandum.
  2. On May 8, Hussein advised Kissinger that his next secret meeting with Prime Minister Meir was scheduled for May 9 in Tel Aviv. Hussein acknowledged the risk but noted that it was one he was willing to take in view of the current Middle East situation. He also commented that he was amazed at the Israeli assessment of the Syrian situation because the Israelis had told him that there was no immediate threat since Syria had pulled back its troops from the border. Hussein noted, however, “Jordanian Military Intelligence has received a report from a well-placed Syrian source that Syrian troops have been pulled back for reorganization in order to prepare for the implementation of a military operation planned against the Golan Heights.” (Ibid.)
  3. Not attached.