17. Telegram From the Embassy in Jordan to the Department of State1

6941. Subject: Message to President Carter From King Hussein.

1. Royal Court Chief Sharaf presented Charge August 28 the following message to President Carter from King Hussein.

[Page 47]2. Quote: Dear Mr. President, Thank you for your letter2 of August 15, 1978 in which you kindly acquainted me with your views and thoughts regarding the future meeting at Camp David. Your initiative in arranging this meeting reflected your personal courage and profound sense of commitment to peace in our region and in the world. I am particularly grateful and satisfied at your assurance that your efforts at Camp David will be guided by your views on a just and lasting peace which have been the subject of our talks and contacts since the beginning.

—Allow me, in return, to put before you our views of the present situation and the prospects of future progress.

—Before President Sadat’s unprecedented initiative, Jordan was seeking to build a consensus among the Arab States [garble] people. These efforts I was conducting while in close consultation with you and within our agreed framework. The idea would have assisted in overcoming the serious procedural obstacles, the problem of coordination among the Arab parties and the issue of Palestinian representation in the peace talks. President Sadat’s surprising and unprecedented initiative, although brave, led to a deep eruption within the Arab world upsetting the atmosphere of cooperation necessary for achieving a comprehensive settlement. Israel’s negative attitude towards all the essential substantive questions in a future settlement, demonstrated in the talks following President Sadat’s trip to Jerusalem, caused a serious setback in the peace process and the atmosphere in general. It has increased the belief in the Arab countries that the Israeli Government is opposed to a total withdrawal from the Arab territories occupied by force in June, 1967 under any circumstances, and it does not intend to allow any reasonable solution of the Palestinian question based on recognition of the right of the Palestinian people, recognized in many United Nations Resolutions, or the right to participate under conditions of freedom in solving the Palestinian problem and in exercising their legitimate human right of self determination. More than at any time previously, Mr. President, I am now sadly persuaded of this. The revelations resulting from President Sadat’s initiative have brought us in the Arab world to this unavoidable conclusion. This is not to say that we in Jordan are any less convinced of the necessity and urgency of achieving a peaceful settlement and more precisely a lasting peace in the area. But we have now a more realistic assessment of the prospects of such a settlement. For us in Jordan, the situation has always been particularly unique and delicate in view of our special relationship [Page 48]with the Palestinian question. The Israeli Government has also added to the obstacles by denying any Jordanian right in the West Bank and refusing to admit that it is occupied Jordanian territory. It is more necessary for us now to have a clear and unambiguous indication that as a result of the process of negotiation Israel would end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and the other territories occupied in June, 1967 and allow a process of self-determination leading to the resolution of the Palestinian problem along lines outlined and with reciprocal guarantees for future mutual security to Arabs and Israelis alike. I am convinced that under such circumstances it would be within our ability not only to participate actively and positively in constructing peace on a solid and lasting basis but also to influence our Arab brethren to participate in the peace process on the basis of the formula you suggested earlier for Geneva or a similar collective framework.

—I do hope and pray that your brave initiative in arranging the forthcoming talks in Camp David would result in the necessary breakthrough. I am sure that you are determined to achieve substantive progress. Permit me, however, to point out that it is feared here in Jordan that the inability to achieve such genuine progress in the talks, as a result of Israel’s proven intransigence, might prompt the participants to issue a vague and uncommiting document of principles aimed at de-emphasizing the differences and inviting other participants. It would be unhelpful to move along such a course and, consequently, expose potential participants such as Jordan to unjustified international and local conflicting pressures. It would be unfair and unrealistic to expect Jordan and other Arab parties to shift their stands on principles on such grounds in the absence of genuine indications of an Israeli positive attitude on the substantive questions.

—I wish to assure you, Mr. President, that Jordan remains ready and willing to participate in all peace efforts that have a credible chance of progress and a productive conclusion. We are committed to the ideal of peace in our region and the hope of a just settlement. After the talks in Camp David I hope that we would reopen close consultations regarding the situation. I shall conduct consultations with my Arab partners in this spirit and for the reactivation of the atmosphere of collective search for peace and positive action. I have already conveyed my country’s views to President Sadat and I am sure that he understands and appreciates them.

—I wish to thank you again for your confidence and friendship. I hope I can reciprocate and that my country would remain the strong friend and partner to your great country as it has always been and a factor for stability and a force for the preservation of the identity of the area and for honorable peace here and in the world.

[Page 49]—With my best wishes and deep respect. Your sincere friend, Hussein I. End quote.

3. Original letter being pouched to Department (S/S).3

4. Report of Sharaf’s background comments on letter being cabled septel.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Cyrus R. Vance, Secretary of State—1977–1980, Lot 84D241, Box 4, Middle East–1978. Secret; Immediate; Nodis.
  2. See footnote 1, Document 11.
  3. A copy of the original typewritten and signed letter from Hussein to Carter, dated August 27, as forwarded to Brzezinski under a September 11 covering memorandum from Tarnoff, is in the Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders File, Box 11, Jordan: King Hussein, 2/77–2/79. Carter sent a brief response to Hussein’s letter on September 2. In the letter, Carter stated appreciation for Hussein’s “clear and candid expression of your position regarding the possible participation of Jordan in the negotiations in the future.” Carter added, “Both of us are aware of the difficulties involved, but I want you to know that I am determined to spare no effort to achieve genuine progress at Camp David. I am convinced that both Prime Minister Begin and President Sadat also want very much to see this meeting succeed. We will be concentrating at the highest political level on the core issues of the just and lasting peace we all seek. I intend to participate actively as a full partner in those efforts.” (Telegram 224191 to Amman, September 2; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780360–0240) Carter’s message was delivered to Hussein by Suddarth in London on September 4. (Telegram 7030 from Amman, September 4; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780360–0732)
  4. In telegram 6942 from Amman, August 28, Suddarth summarized his August 28 conversation with Sharaf regarding Hussein’s letter. After Sharaf reiterated the points contained in Hussein’s letter, Suddarth “strongly urged” Jordan to “keep an open mind until after Camp David. Sharaf said it would do so but emphasized that Jordan wants U.S. to know its position clearly before talks start. King [Hussein] had sent a similar letter to Sadat.” Suddarth concluded that Hussein’s letter “appears to leave little room for Camp David talks to produce enough positive results for Jordan to associate itself with ongoing negotiations, unless a major breakthrough occurs on Israeli willingness to make major change in its position on West Bank withdrawal and Palestinian self-determination—a change which Jordan thinks will not occur.” (Telegram 6942 from Amman, August 28; National Archives, RG 59, Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, Files of Alfred L. Atherton, Lot 80D166, Box 5, Preparations for Camp David Summit—August 1978)