62. Telegram 4591 From the Embassy in Jordan to the Embassy in Switzerland1 2

Please pass Federal Political Department Bern

1. Your message received through Beirut could only be remitted to me in full yesterday due to heavy fighting in Amman ta Wednesday. Taking into consideration explosive political situation here and the fact that extremist Palestinian organization which holds planes and passengers or can only be minimally influenced by any government including Arab governments, I consider it useless at time being to contact Jordanian authorities or Arab League mission if still in Amman. As I suppose you have been informed by ICRC and other interested governments of present situation and conditions put by PFLP to Rochat, I consider essential to avoid further endangering lives of [garble] that there be abstention on any counter measures, military or others. According to Rochat’s opinion and to his latest discussions with PFLP leaders it is doubtful that the latter will accept compromise other than delivery in Amman of seven fedayeen plus body of killed man before evacuation of all women, children, and sick men from Jordan for which PFLP seems ready to give a written engagement

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conditions for release of remaining being discussed at later date. It appears that in case of worsening situation in Amman such a solution would permit to evacuate this group on pure humanitarian reasons without discrimination of origin or religion. According to ICRC doctor, his medical team was ordered to leave immediately airfield during the night and supplies being brought this morning on trucks from second balair plane had to be returned to Amman. Moreover, according to information received by Rochat a short time ago, Palestinian Red Crescent Society has been ordered by PFLP to evacuate from this airfield to hotels in Amman all remaining passengers and crews. One can conclude that PFLP intends to blow up the three planes, starting with TWA plane. This transfer will create accommodation difficulties as hotels are already full. Although partial evacuation as described above against previous return of seven fedayeen may seem at a distance as giving up too easily to PFLP demands. I think that taking into consideration present conditions of passengers and local political situation which could worsen at any moment, this solution based uniquely on humanitarian grounds would avoid a much harder position of PFLP if not accepted. According to ICRC teams who have visited planes in last few days remaining passengers in SwissAir plane are reported well, taking into consideration conditions in which they have had to live. As nothing special reported on Caritas President, I suppose he is well. Shall report any further developments. Dubois sends.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, AV 12. Confidential; Immediate. Repeated immediate to Rogers.
  2. Chargi O Dell saw no point in approaching Jordanian authorities or Arab League officials for assistance because governments could only minimally influence the hijackers. He recommended against any military action.