64. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • U.S. Side

    • Secretary Vance
    • Ambassador to Jordan Nicholas Veliotes
    • Ambassador Alfred Atherton
    • Ambassador Michael Sterner
    • Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Hodding Carter
    • DCM Roscoe Suddarth (notetaker)
  • Jordanian Side

    • King Hussein
    • Crown Prince Hassan
    • Prime Minister Adnan Badran
    • Chief of Royal Court Abdu Sharaf
    • Minister of Court Amer Khamaash
    • Minister of Education Abdul Salem Majali
    • Minister of Information Adnan Abu Odeh
    • Commander-in-Chief Lt. General Zayd Bin Shaker


King Hussein: I would like to seize the opportunity to welcome you to Jordan. It is a personal pleasure to meet you at any time as a friend. I very much appreciate the fact that President Carter was kind enough to ask you to come to Jordan to speak about the current important issues. Needless to say, I have always held the highest regard for President Carter’s sincerity and determination for a just and durable peace. He has spent many hours on this fundamental problem.

Recent developments have taken us by surprise, not only in terms of the results at Camp David but also because of the unexpected positions of Egypt. We have looked at President Carter’s letter2 describing Camp David and held a meeting with the Cabinet. At every level in Jordan and in the area people are preoccupied with these developments and also in terms of the meaning of the Camp David documents.

We are not able at this stage to adopt any final position before getting the details on what happened at Camp David and the meaning of the words of the documents. We hope you can cover some of the gaps. I [Page 221]interrupted my travels abroad and came back immediately after Camp David; I have been in constant consultation with my Government and in touch with Syria and Saudi Arabia. The implications of Camp David are very serious and will have an affect on the future in a very basic manner. We are reserving judgment until it is clearer where Camp David stands and where it is headed.

Thank you for the Presidential letter after Camp David. As a result we now have at least a glimpse of what happened at Camp David.

Thank you also for the President’s letter3 conveying an invitation for me to visit the United States. I accept with great delight. We will be in touch to ask President Carter if he can spare time at another appropriate date for my visit.

Camp David has placed us in an untenable position. Nothing is more important to us than maintaining the closest relations with the United States. Furthermore, if we have an idea of the end result that we would be striving for in a peace settlement we would believe in doing our utmost to attain a just and durable peace. In reviewing the past, you should remember that we were the first “Palestinian refugees” and the Hashemite Family was involved since the beginning of the century in the struggle for Palestinian rights. Many of our citizens are from Palestine and a sizeable number of our citizens have been affected by this tragedy: some in 1967 moved to this part of the country, some of whom were uprooted from their homes in Palestine two or three times. My grandfather4 stood for Arab rights in Jerusalem and gave his own life in that cause. My own experience has been to make a durable peace and this has been a precious objective for me. This problem has affected us all personally and left many scars. Our objective is to live through this problem until a solution is found.

We have many questions. One element of surprise was in the change of events and attitudes since the initial adoption of Resolution 242 in 1967. The United States told us that Israel’s acceptance of 242 would be implemented in a short time not exceeding a few months. This meant Israel would withdraw from all territory occupied in the 1967 War with only minor border rectifications. Our position on this was that minor but reciprocal rectifications would be acceptable. We also asserted that Arab Jerusalem was to be considered a part of the West Bank in the withdrawal issue. On Jerusalem, we understand the United States accepted neither the Israeli nor the Jordanian position but [Page 222]was more for internationalization. For us this meant internationalization of both the Israeli and the Arab sides of Jerusalem.

Jordan has been consistently in favor of Palestinian self-determination. Before Camp David we sent President Carter and President Sadat a letter outlining our position.5 We had assurances from Cairo that this was also the Egyptian position and we thought a total solution and a comprehensive settlement was also their goal. Throughout the many months of the past we talked about nothing other than a comprehensive solution, and we argued with others in the area when they said Egypt would go its own way (for a separate peace). Previous to that, we were all working for a unified Arab delegation to Geneva. With the Sadat initiative6 everything changed, but Egypt said they were pursuing a comprehensive settlement even just before they left for Camp David.

We very much appreciate U.S. efforts in pursuing a solution to the Middle East problem. And we have carefully read the two documents coming from the Camp David meeting. These documents suggest that they provide a framework for a settlement. We hope this is the case and have many questions.

One: Do these documents in fact provide a framework for a comprehensive and final settlement?

Two: There is a question of the five-year transition period. In our mind, are Israeli attitudes that prevail in the last eleven years going to continue to prevail during this five-year period?

Three: There is the question of the Israeli military presence and the withdrawal to specified locations for security purposes. What specified locations? What security purposes?

Four: What are the details of the transition arrangements including the Jordanian role for the maintenance of security. Whose security and in what way? Against what threats? We have already positioned troops along our border with Israel for many years to prevent hostile infiltrations from attacking Israel. How would this new situation differ?

Five: During the five-year transition period Palestinians are supposed to participate. In what and from where? What freedoms will they enjoy? What rights will they enjoy and to what degree?

Six: Is the West Bank/Gaza formulation supposed to be a total solution to the Palestinian problem? Who are the Palestinians who have the right to join in the negotiations?

Seven: There is discussion of a Jordanian/Israeli peace treaty. On what basis?

[Page 223]Eight: There is mention of Resolution 242. Would it apply equally to Jordan, Egypt and Syria, as well as to the West Bank and Gaza? Which territories would be ceded to whom? This question is particularly important since the Israeli position on territorial withdrawal even in statements by its leaders after Camp David is contradictory to Resolution 242.

Nine: How can Palestinians determine their own future or organize the way to self-government under even a partial Israeli occupation?

Ten: Would Palestinian representatives be drawn only from the occupied territory or would electors have a wider choice?

Eleven: Regarding Israeli settlements: Would all actions on enlarging present settlements or building new settlements be stopped from the moment of the Camp David agreement or only stopped during the initial negotiations for a self-governing authority?

Twelve: The Jerusalem question is of very great significance for us and for others. The U.S. position is that the status quo is not acceptable as a final solution. However, what is the precise U.S. attitude towards Jerusalem?

Thirteen: All persons are now depending on Jordan regarding the implementation of Camp David. We are flattered and touched but on the other hand what are we able to do the way things presently stand? Is, in fact, Jordanian participation as crucial or essential as outlined?

Fourteen: What can the United States do in terms of support and in obtaining support of others for Jordan? We mention this only in a general context since we know there will be risks. We wish to see a sound final solution that will be acceptable to future generations. Anything short of that would cause further turbulence and reflect on those involved as well as the United States.

In responding to the points of the President’s letter we have the following observations:

One: We frankly have reservations on the results of Camp David. Despite assurances about your interest in a comprehensive peace, in fact Camp David spells out a separate Egyptian/Israeli agreement which is unconnected or binding with the other aspects of the Arab/Israeli problem. This will lead to the isolation of Egypt and the paralyzing of the peace process. We feel this very strongly, particularly since a separate peace has been a primary Israeli objective throughout.

Two: On the invitation for us to participate in administering the West Bank and Gaza, we are asked to assume legal, military and political obligations before knowing what the end result of the transition period will be. If we knew the end result we would be prepared to consider such an involvement. However, since the nature of the transi[Page 224]tional period as described is so vague, it could result in an unacceptable end result in five years.

Three: Apart from some insubstantial changes in the Israeli position, the Camp David framework does not assure Israeli withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders, self-determination for the Palestinians, a resolution of the refugee problem or the future role of Jordan. It is, therefore, not possible to conclude from Camp David that these questions will be answered affirmatively at the end of five years of negotiations. This is precisely the situation that we have faced for the past eleven years with respect to resolution 242.

Four: The two documents are also extremely different. The Israeli/Egyptian document is extremely explicit as to terms and end result in contrast to the vague nature of the other document, particularly as concerns the end result.

Five: Jordan is asked to participate in West Bank security arrangements aimed against Palestinian subversion, yet without knowing if there will in fact really be an end of the Israel occupation (that the subversion is presumably aimed at terminating).

Six: President Carter seems to be departing from positions earlier in his Administration on the Palestinian question.

Seven: If Jordan is expected to participate, the basis for it must be clearer and more balanced. We are not tempted to participate in the implementation of the Begin Plan.7 If the Begin Plan will be implemented anyway, with U.S. assent, why then involve Jordan? It would appear this Plan could be unilaterally implemented.

Pardon us for our frankness. I feel bad personally after your long ordeal at Camp David to discuss things in this manner. However, it is my duty to ensure that there are no misunderstandings in our position regarding problems of such magnitude.

We studied the results of Camp David but because of their gravity we had no choice but to make our statement8 of yesterday in which we said that Camp David does not constitute a binding legal document for us until a lot is cleared up and that we were not involved in bringing this document about. To tell the truth, we feel less let down by the United States than by our sister Arab state (Egypt), since there is no linkage between the two documents of Camp David. But this is something between us and Egypt and not for us to discuss at this point. We have received many requests from you to keep quiet on Camp David. However, we have a public opinion including many persons who have suffered the most regarding the Palestinian problem. We have been [Page 225]startled by the many local statements against the documents, vague as they are. Israel has a U.S. commitment to support its survival and other countries in the area have similar great power backing. We here however have nothing but ourselves and our links to the past and the future and a desire for peace and a more stable and progressive area. I hope there is no question that we will play a role toward achieving a peace we feel we can live with. For this we are ready to risk everything, but short of that, this risk is not justified and is not honest in terms of U.S. interests in this turbulent area. To you, once again thanks for being with us today.


Secretary Vance’s Reply:

I want to express my deep gratitude for the gracious and warm welcome I have received on behalf of President Carter and my country to discuss the incredibly important questions involved here. I want to answer all the questions you have put to me, but first I want to mention some general considerations behind the reasons why the President considered it so important to send me here.

We have not pressed for Jordanian participation until we felt we had achieved a workable framework for further progress. We are pleased that we now have a framework which, in the language of Your Majesty’s August 28 letter,9 has a “credible chance of progress and of a productive conclusion . . .”

Assuming a favorable vote by the Knesset on the Sinai settlements question, a concrete, substantive, and procedural framework has been established which will make it possible for serious Egyptian-Israeli negotiations to begin in the very near future. President Carter also attached great importance to an early beginning of the negotiations relating to the West Bank and Gaza. He believes very strongly it is of great importance that Jordan be in on the process at an early stage because if it goes ahead without Jordan’s being a participant from the beginning, we are fearful that Jordan’s ability to influence the process will become much more difficult as time passes.

We recognize that the Camp David agreements do not contain everything Your Majesty or we would have wished. We also recognize that this makes the decision Your Majesty faces all the more difficult. It is important, however, to look not only at what is not in the agreements, but also at the very substantial new elements which they contain from the Arab point of view. I might just summarize some of those points:

[Page 226]—Israeli military occupation ends. In both the West Bank and Gaza, Prime Minister Begin has committed Israel in principle to withdraw in accordance with Resolution 242.

—For the first time ever, a self-governing Palestinian authority will be created during the transitional period. This will take place in the West Bank/Gaza as the Israeli military government is withdrawn. We believe that if responsibly conducted, this should set in motion an evolutionary process which will enable the Palestinians to govern themselves.

—Once started, we believe that this process will become irreversible so that at the end of the five year transitional period an outcome which meets basic Arab requirements will be almost inevitable. A major advantage of this approach is that it deals with the West Bank and Gaza in their totality, rather than talking about some form of partitioning of the West Bank—e.g. along the lines of the Allon Plan,10 or other forms of partition.

—Next, the Israelis have recognized the “legitimate rights” of the Palestinians. The implications of the acceptance of this principle are very important. They should enable a political, economic, and social relationship to develop between the Palestinians and their neighbors which will, we hope, promote political stability and economic development in the area.

—The document states that the Palestinians are recognized as a party to negotiations with Egypt, Israel, and, we hope, Jordan. They will have a real voice in determining their own future.

—The settlements on the West Bank will be brought under agreed limitations. I might comment on what other documents say on issues not covered in the Camp David framework. In an exchange of letters we said that after the signing of the framework and during the negotiations there would be no new settlements in the area. The issue of future settlements would be decided by negotiations. There would be a freeze on new Israeli settlements. During these negotiations the future of the settlements would be agreed to among the four negotiating parties.

—There is an Israeli commitment to work out procedures promptly on persons displaced in 1967, which have been such a great burden on themselves and on Jordan’s resources.

[Page 227]—Finally, the framework does apply to all of the confrontation states and we believe provided the desired framework of the comprehensive settlement.

—In addition to the gains I have just mentioned from the Arab point of view, the Camp David agreements also offer important strategic advantages. They provide in our judgment a basis around which moderate forces in the area, with the support of the United States and our friends, can rally. They can help strengthen the moderates in the area and insulate them from radical pressures.

—Precisely for those reasons, it is inevitable that the Camp David agreements will be attacked by a number of countries and radical elements, and that they will create a certain amount of dissention (in the area) in the short run. Over the longer run, however, they hold out a better prospect for stability and moderation than any alternative we can envisage.

—We are very mindful of the pressures which will be brought to bear on Jordan, should it join the negotiating process. We have always believed, however, that Jordan has a leadership role to play in the search for peace. Your Majesty has played that role at key moments in the past; we believe we are again at one of those historic moments.

—We recognize these agreements do not bind Jordan but if there is a just solution, that Jordan must play a major role to bring that about.

—We can understand that Your Majesty will want to consult with your friends in the area, in particular the Saudis, as well as your internal advisors, before making a final decision. Before you make that decision, President Carter wants you to know that he remains fully committed to the role of a full partner. He does not intend to see the substantial achievements of Camp David, which have been recognized as such by most of the world, fail to lead ultimately to a comprehensive and just peace in this area. We will be involved in very practical ways in the on-going negotiations. The results of Camp David demonstrate what we have long maintained—that real movement can only emerge from the dynamics of on-going negotiations. We believe those dynamics can continue to produce movement in the direction that Your Majesty considers essential and important.

—Our own view of the ultimate outcome of the process remains unchanged. We continue to prefer and will support an outcome which links the West Bank and Gaza with Jordan. We have made this clear to the Israelis, and President Sadat has also indicated that he supports such an outcome should that be the desire of inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza.

—If Jordan decides to join the negotiations on the basis of the Camp David framework, we are convinced that there will be broad support in our Congress to provide the help that you may need under [Page 228]those circumstances. We will review sympathetically what might be done to provide additional military and economic assistance to Jordan.

—It goes without saying that we would also give Jordan full political diplomatic support through our contacts with other area governments and through our public statements. In this connection I should note that among the side letters to be published in connection with the Camp David agreements is a letter from us reaffirming our historic position on Jerusalem. We tried to resolve Jerusalem in the document. It was impossible. Therefore we agreed with Egypt and ultimately with Israel to state our positions in documents to be made public. Our position on Jerusalem remains that outlined by Ambassadors Goldberg,11 Yost12 and Scranton13 in U.N. debates with which you are familiar. The most fulsome expression was that of Yost.

[Page 229]—I would welcome any suggestions Your Majesty may have with respect to my forthcoming talks with the Saudi leadership. I would also appreciate your thoughts about my forthcoming meeting with President Assad. We recognize that Jordan cannot totally ignore Syrian views and, while we do not expect to convince Syria at this stage to support the Camp David agreements, we will do all we can to maintain our dialogue with Syria and to persuade it to keep an open mind.

—Finally, I would be happy to explain any of the specific parts of the Camp David framework which Your Majesty may wish—in particular the paragraphs dealing with the West Bank/Gaza problem and the Palestinian role. In this connection, I would welcome Your Majesty’s judgment about ways in which moderate Palestinians, in particular Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and Gaza, might be brought to see the opportunities which the Camp David agreements offer to them.


Secretary Vance continued: Let me now go through the specific questions you asked. (NOTE: The sequence below, in which the Secretary repeated the King’s questions and responded, does not correspond exactly with the sequence in which the King posed them.)

One. Jordan’s role in maintaining security and whose security?

Security is not for the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza. The document provides for the establishment of a strong local police force. There is an unwritten understanding that the local police will be responsible for internal security. They could discharge this function without assistance from others with the exception of certain situations when they might need some additional assistance. Therefore, there will need to be drawn up procedures covering the roles of the police and other security forces in the document setting up the self-governing authority.

Two. The question of Israeli withdrawal of armed forces to specified locations.

According to Israel, they have approximately 10,000 troops on the West Bank, comprising three brigades plus other forces. In a tentative and unfinalized figure, they would withdraw roughly 4,000 of their troops to Israel and the remaining forces would be deployed to locations away from population centers so as not to interfere with the daily activities of the inhabitants. We were shown maps on their locations. There would also be retained two or three installations including “black boxes” of technological instruments to give early warning. There would be a total of 12 to 15 military installations containing some with only 15 or 20 people. All would be laid out very promptly with their precise locations designated. It should be emphasized that this is [Page 230]for the transition period only. At the end of this period, there would be further withdrawals to be worked out by the parties.

Three: What would be the Palestinian participation in the negotiations and what rights would they have?

There are the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza. They would not include Palestinians from outside unless by mutual agreement. On the rights of the Palestinians: The document refers to “legitimate rights” and says that any solution must recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinians and their just requirements. The Israelis fought this hard but have now been willing to put this concept in a formal document.

Four. How will the Palestinian problem be solved?

The document says it will be resolved in all its aspects, another concept that Israel has consistently fought against. The document also addresses the refugee problem not only for displaced persons but in a broader refugee context.

Five. To whom do the principles of 242 apply?

The document says that 242 and its principles apply to all the parties. The negotiations in Paragraph 1 are not only between Israel and Jordan, but also on the final status of the Palestinians on the West Bank and in relation to their neighbors. It states that 242 applies in all its parts. There was big debate on this question because Israel knows what “all its parts” means.

Six. How would the Palestinians determine their own future?

The answer to this is contained in Paragraph 1C providing for two committees which would commence their work within three years and complete it within five years. Israel wanted to start after four years with no commitment to end it. This was a major step forward in our negotiations at Camp David. It provides for negotiations to determine the final status of the West Bank and Gaza and its relation to its neighbors. Paragraph 1C also provides “negotiations for the resolution of other outstanding issues by the end of five years.” Furthermore, the document must be submitted to elected West Bank representatives for approval.

Seven. What is an elected representative?

The West Bank inhabitants would be free to elect a number of representatives to govern the West Bank and Gaza during the transitional period. Anyone can run for the election even a PLO inhabitant of the West Bank and Gaza. This is another step for providing the participation of Palestinians.

The document also provides (assuming this is acceptable to Jordan) for Palestinian participation in the work of the Jordanian/Israeli treaty. While Jordan may not agree to this concept, we found that the problem of the final status of the persons in Jordan and the West Bank, [Page 231]plus the broader questions were so entwined that both sets would require participation of the Palestinians. Paragraph 1C3 provides that the elected representatives will decide how to govern themselves, consistent with the determination of the West Bank and Gaza issue and other outstanding issues.

Eight. What about the dissolution of the military government?

This would occur at the moment of the establishment of the self-governing authority, which we believe would take about three months to set up, including electoral and self-government provisions. (I do not know if three months is correct—but this was urged on us as a desirable figure—at that time 650 Israelis would be withdrawn. These are the military and civilian members of the military government.) That means that a disturbing presence would be withdrawn from the cities and towns in the short period of three months. But a number of regular armed forces personnel would remain in specified locations. I believe that Israel wants to turn over the governance and maintenance of security to the West Bank inhabitants.

Nine. Are the representatives only to be from the West Bank and Gaza?


Ten. Settlements?

On Sinai, no agreement could be reached at Camp David on its settlements. Sadat said the commitment to withdrawal was a prerequisite to a Sinai agreement. Begin’s position was that they should be worked out in a three month period before the peace treaty. Since they were not worked out, Begin said he would take the question to the Knesset casting aside partisan discussion and voting with members voting their conscience. No one knows how this will turn out although many think the vote will favor withdrawal. Begin first said he would stand aside, but Dayan urged him as Prime Minister to vote and take a leadership role. My guess is the Likud and Labor will split on this issue. My belief is that when many see that this is a vote for peace or no peace, they will vote in favor of withdrawal. On the related security issue, I do not believe it is a valid argument but it is, nevertheless, held by many people. We mentioned the possibility of having UN forces permanently stationed in the Rafa Junction so they would not need settlements because of the UN buffer. Dayan said he needed that in order to convince people to give up those settlements.

Eleven: Jerusalem.

We have indicated our position on this issue.

Twelve. Comprehensive peace.

For peace to endure we believe it must constitute a basis for not only Egypt and Israel but also for others. We have felt strongly that the [Page 232]document had to have this element in it and we feel deeply that there must be a comprehensive peace in order for the framework to be durable.

Thirteen. Is it possible that an unacceptable result could come about at the end of the five year period?

The document provides that there must be a conclusion reached by the end of five years, regarding relations with the neighbors and the other issues. We have also stated that these negotiations are based on 242 and on all its parts. Obviously it requires negotiations and the outcome is not certain. But the document does state that the result must be accomplished by the end of five years.

Fourteen. Ambassador Atherton noted that King Hussein mentioned that the Israeli/Egyptian document is more specific than the West Bank one.

He pointed out that Secretary Vance said that in the former case you had two parties (Egypt and Israel) who were negotiating directly and could, therefore, reach a specific agreement. The other document was general because the other parties (Jordan, the Palestinians, Syria) were not there.

Fifteen. Ambassador Atherton mentioned the question regarding the refugee problem and said President Carter in his speech14 to Con-gress stated the refugee problem must be solved under the relevant Palestinian refugee UN resolutions.

Sixteen. There is a different tenor to President Carter’s earlier call for Palestinian rights and a homeland in contrast to the new direction that Camp David is alleged to take.

We still support a Palestinian homeland and we promote this concept by (a) the transitional stage which provides for full autonomy and (b) allowing the Palestinians to choose their status and relations with their neighbors. We have made no change in our view on Israeli withdrawal nor on legitimate Palestinian rights. In fact, we added the concept of “just requirements” for the Palestinians. There has also been no change in our position of Jerusalem.

This conclude the Secretary’s response to the King’s questions and the session turned to general discussion.


Sharaf made the following point:

If Jordan plays a role, it must be on a more solid basis. Self-government during a transitional period makes sense only if the transition leads to a final solution.

[Page 233]VANCE. We can not give the assurance of a final solution now. One must be practical.

SHARAF: This is the whole problem. The current position is a radical change from the past and has put the cart before the horse. In the past, the whole discussion was on self-determination and withdrawal with considering being with the modalities of how to attain those goals by negotiation. Now we have the opposite “escapist” approach. We now have transitional modalities without any assurances that a final determination will be worked out. Jordan has been asked to participate in negotiations for three years in order to reach a result that is by no means guaranteed. The transition therefore becomes not a part of the implementation, but rather an exercise taking place in a vacuum. We give a commitment to get involved on the West Bank while Israel’s leaders are now saying they will continue their settlements in the West Bank. We, therefore, end up giving a Jordanian endorsement to the Begin Plan.

VANCE. We will not be able to resolve the question of the final status of the territories overnight. The document provides for a period of time for the negotiation of that issue. This is precisely why a transitional period is necessary.

SHARAF: Why does Jordan have to play a security role?

VANCE: Jordanian help was felt necessary because Egypt felt that if there are forces left in the West Bank there should also be an Arab presence there during the transitional period.

SHARAF: If everything rests on Israeli intentions at the end of five years, why not let them implement the Begin Plan now without Jordanian involvement?

VANCE: You have a real interest in promoting Palestinian rights during this period and also from Jordan’s standpoint in influencing those who will be on your border.

SHARAF: In consenting to the Begin Plan, Jordan does a disservice to the Palestinians by endorsing it, since the situation only changes from a military to a civilian administration.

VANCE: The U.S. would feel more confident if Jordan were keeping an eye on the West Bank than we would if you were not there.

SHARAF: The point is that we have no assurances regarding the future final disposition of the West Bank, which is a particularly important consideration in the context of repeated Israeli statements that they do not intend to give up the West Bank, the settlements there or Arab Jerusalem. To speak frankly, the U.S. seems too absorbed with the formulas of Camp David to look at the broader picture, which includes forces for peace arrayed against forces for destruction. Radical forces are increasing. Jordan is asked to underwrite an Israeli occupation [Page 234]while covering a separate agreement being negotiated with Sadat which is unconnected with the West Bank document and is to be signed within three months. Jordan, therefore, absorbs the whole Palestinian question itself without being involved in any assured final outcome. We are, therefore, asked to erode our own credibility. One must take into account that the Israeli leadership is saying that Jerusalem is to be united under Israeli rule forever, that Sumaria and Judea will not be given up. We are not being over cautious in our position. How can one ignore this blatant situation.

VANCE: Unfortunately, if there is no negotiation, then your objective of working for Israeli withdrawal is even less likely to come about. Begin only has two and a half years left. Once you start a process of self-government and negotiations there is a good chance—and even a near inevitability—that you can work out a solution. If there are no negotiations, the odds are very small that you will achieve any Israeli withdrawal.

KING HUSSEIN: President Carter said that if we have any points on which we are not clear we should bring them up. We will, therefore, have to consult among ourselves and go to others in the Arab world. Our people must involve themselves in this issue.

We must, however, be sure of the U.S. position on these positions in a very clear fashion. This may help to make up our own minds and to clarify the way that we approach our own people. I remember after Resolution 242 that Nasser said “I will not reopen the Suez Canal or discuss the Sinai until Jordan and the West Bank situations are dealt with.” Now we find the Suez Canal open and a peace treaty being signed over Sinai. We are talking now from a position of weakness with regard to Israel and this will be especially true if Egypt moves out of the conflict; in three or four years under such conditions Israel would not even be interested in what we are speaking about today. We need clear and, if possible, written assurances of what the U.S. position is regarding what lies at the end of the road.

VANCE: Would it be helpful for us to provide written answers to your questions.

KING HUSSEIN: Yes. It would help us to formulate our own options. But, in addition, we want a U.S. commitment and a description of your own position.

MINISTER MAJALI: Does the West Bank include Jerusalem?

VANCE: In the transition period, Jerusalem would not be included since there are conflicting claims in its regard. We believe it is occupied territory, however, and this is a conflict between us and Israel.

MAJALI: Would Israeli settlements be included in the self-governing territory? And are the West Bank and Gaza 1967 borders?

[Page 235]VANCE: The answer to the latter question is—Yes. The question of settlements was not discussed.

MAJALI: The biggest issue is whether the borders would include the Israeli settlements and whether the settlers would vote.

VANCE: I assume they would vote but I must get a clarification on this.

MAJALI: How would the government be financed and who would sponsor elections?

VANCE: Regarding elections—Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians would sponsor them. We assume there is no problem in bringing in the UN or others to supervise elections. The greatest problem is the question of the status of the West Bank. At any rate these are all questions that would be worked out during the three month period.

MAJALI: The central question is where the West Bank borders would be. These must be defined.

ABUODEN: Everyone admits that the psychological aspect is important, especially in the Arab world. We have asked our people to read the documents closely and taken pains to see they have been published. We have surveyed our people and found that they have no feeling of assurance about the outcome of the transitional period. If we could have a phrase saying that the transitional period is a stage on the road to reaching a treaty and thus achieving a durable peace and that it would be conducive to the attainment of Palestinian self-determination as provided for in Resolution 242, then we would have a different situation. If at the end of the five-year period there is no agreed solution or, alternatively, if the Palestinian voters rejected then what is the result? This is a very ambiguous situation.

VANCE: We have provided for three stages in the transitional framework. Your questions are good ones but we do not believe that amending the document is realistic. Perhaps you could get a clarification during the negotiations.

MAJALI: The document makes no mention of past UN resolutions.

VANCE: There is mention of Resolutions 242 and 338. Furthermore, President Carter said in his speech to Congress that all pertinent UN resolutions “had to be taken into account regarding the refugee problem.”

SHARAF: What does the U.S. envisage for the future of the other Palestinians outside the West Bank (who are armed)?

VANCE: We recognize that problem and it must be addressed, but in a broader spectrum—involving Lebanon and Syria. As to immigration into the West Bank, this is a problem not easily resolved, although the question of displaced persons has been resolved.

[Page 236]SHARAF: How much is this now a framework for other parties?

VANCE: The document provides a broad solution which would include even Golan Heights. On the Palestinian issue there is as much in this for Syrian interests in that respect as for others.

SHARAF: If agreement is not reached and Jordan does not take part in the negotiations, what is the situation regarding Israeli intentions on self-government on the West Bank?

VANCE: Israel would like to proceed with the Begin Plan’s implementation, but Egypt does not accept this. The agreed procedure is that negotiations on this would start soon. Also, Egypt has an interest in the Palestinian issue in Gaza.

KING HUSSEIN: The people in Arab Jerusalem would fall under what category? Do the people there exercise independent rights or are they considered Israeli citizens?

VANCE: This was a problem we labored over for hours. How do you suggest we address it?

MAJALI: At the end of the agreement, it calls for open borders, diplomatic relations, etc. In such a case, Jerusalem is no longer a problem since the door is open for the full exercise of the rights of its Arab population. No one would put up barbed wire.

VANCE: This is a good point. Everyone agreed on free access to the Holy Places, that the Holy Places would be fully administered by each respective faith and that the city would no longer be divided. There was also agreement on free movement within Jerusalem. The hangup was on sovereignty. The U.S. position is that the status of Jerusalem must be negotiated by the parties. We have our own view but we can not compel the Israelis to accept it. We have stated that annexation was illegal but to enforce our view is a different story.

KING HUSSEIN: This is a crucial question for us.

VANCE: We recognize that.

CROWN PRINCE: Why was Jordan mentioned as participating in the local police force, particularly since this would set a precedent for Jordan with respect to other aspects of the West Bank governing authority.

VANCE: Jordan was included because of your expertise and the feeling that it would be necessary to have Jordan help operate the police force. This, however, is not mandatory and Jordan might not choose to take part.

CROWN PRINCE: During the transition period would inhabitants of Arab Jerusalem perhaps become gradually acceptable as voters?

VANCE: This was argued at Camp David and it could be possible after two years or so.

[Page 237]In conclusion King Hussein said it would be helpful to us with our local people and with others in the area if we could have formal written U.S. answers to the questions that we have raised here. Secretary Vance agreed to do so and asked that the Jordanians send us their questions in writing. King Hussein agreed to do so.15

King Hussein said that the Jordanians will be discussing these two documents and will be asking many questions concerning them and the precise meaning of their language. We will continue our discussions with Secretary Vance in their regard in order to clarify these issues.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, Files of Alfred L. Atherton, Lot 80D166, Box 6, Action/Future Stops. Secret; Nodis. The meeting took place in the Hashamiya Palace. The Jordanian Prime Minister was Muhdar Badran, not Adnan Badran as indicated in the list of participants. On September 21, Vance cabled a summary of this conversation to the Department of State for distribution to Carter and Brzezinski. (Telegram Secto 10015 from Amman, September 21; Carter Library, Donated Material, Papers of Walter F. Mondale, Foreign Countries, Box 60, Foreign Countries—Middle East [9/16–30/1978]) Vance arrived in Amman on September 20; he departed to Saudi Arabia on September 21.
  2. See Document 61.
  3. See Document 61.
  4. Abdullah I bin al-Hussein, Emir of Transjordan from 1921 until 1946 and King of Jordan from 1946 until 1951. King Abdullah was assassinated on July 20, 1951, while visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
  5. See Document 17.
  6. See footnote 3, Document 4.
  7. See footnote 2, Document 5.
  8. See Document 63.
  9. See Document 17.
  10. The Allon Plan, initially presented in July 1967 by then Israeli Minister of Labor Yigal Allon, would have returned approximately two-thirds of the West Bank to a “Jordanian-Palestinian state” while Israel retained control of the Jordan Rift Valley and mountain ridges to the west from Nablus to Hebron with Israeli military outposts along the Jordan River and the remainder of the West Bank demilitarized. The Palestinians were to have self-administration in an autonomous or semi-autonomous region, and Israel would remain in full control of a united Jerusalem with a possible Jordanian status in the Muslim quarter of the old city.
  11. In an address before the United Nations General Assembly on July 14, 1967, Ambassador Arthur J. Goldberg declared: “with regard to the specific measures taken by the Government of Israel on June 28 [1967], I wish to make it clear that the United States does not accept or recognize these measures as altering the status of Jerusalem. My Government does not recognize that the administrative measures taken by the Government of Israel on June 28 can be regarded as the last word on the matter, and we regret that they were taken. We insist that the measures taken cannot be considered other than interim and provisional, and not prejudging the final and permanent status of Jerusalem.” He continued: “We believe that the most fruitful approach to a discussion of the future of Jerusalem lies in dealing with the entire problem as one aspect of the broader arrangements that must be made to restore a just and durable peace in the area.” (Department of State Bulletin, July–December 1967, pp. 148–151)
  12. Speaking before the United Nations Security Council on July 1, 1969, Ambassador Charles Yost declared: “the United States considers that the part of Jerusalem that came under the control of Israel in the June [1967] war, like other areas occupied by Israel, is occupied territory and hence subject to the provisions of international law governing the rights and obligations of an occupying power.” He continued: “Among the provisions of international law which bind Israel, as they would bind any occupier, are the provisions that the occupier has no right to make changes in laws or in administration other than those which are temporarily necessitated by his security interest and that an occupier may not confiscate or destroy private property. The pattern of behavior authorized under the Geneva convention and international law is clear: The occupier must maintain the occupied area as intact and unaltered as possible, without interfering with the customary life of the area, and any changes must be necessitated by immediate needs of the occupation. I regret to say that the actions of Israel in the occupied portion of Jerusalem present a different picture, one which gives rise to understandable concerns that the eventual disposition of East Jerusalem may be prejudiced, and that the rights and activities of the population are already being affected and altered.” He continued: “My Government regrets and deplores this pattern of activity, and it has so informed the Government of Israel on numerous occasions since June 1967. We have consistently refused to recognize these measures as having anything but a provisional character and do not accept them as affecting the ultimate status of Jerusalem.” (Department of State Bulletin, July 9, 1969, pp. 76–77)
  13. On March 25, 1976, Ambassador William Scranton stated to the United Nations Security Council that “as far as the United States is concerned, such unilateral measures, including expropriation of land or other administrative action taken by the Government of Israel, cannot be considered other than interim and provisional and cannot affect the present international status nor prejudge the final and permanent status of Jerusalem. The U.S. position could not be clearer.” (Department of State Bulletin, April 19, 1976, pp. 529–530)
  14. On September 18, President Carter addressed a Joint Session of Congress on the outcome of the Camp David Summit and the agreements reached. The text of this speech is printed in Public Papers: Carter, 1978, Book II, pp. 1533–1537.
  15. On September 28, Badran formally presented Veliotes a list of 14 questions on the Camp David Agreements in the form of a letter from Badran to Vance. The same day, the Embassy transmitted the text of the letter in telegram 7605 from Amman. (National Archives, RG 59, Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, Files of Alfred L. Atherton, Lot 80D166, Box 6, Camp David Final)