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U.S. Department of State

1964-1968, Volume XVIII
Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1964-67

Department of State
Washington, DC

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330. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel/1/

Washington, October 31, 1966, 7:27 p.m.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 32-1 ISR-JORDAN. Secret. Drafted by Symmes, cleared by Campbell and Atherton, and approved by Hare. Repeated to USUN, Amman, Jerusalem, Paris, London, and CINCSTRIKE.

76248. Ref: Tel Aviv 1480, Amman 982./2/

/2/Telegram 1480 from Tel Aviv, October 30, reported that in a conversation with Barbour that day, Eban stressed the seriousness of the latest terrorist incident but stated that Eshkol was exercising restraint. He stated that the attitude of Jordan's Security Council representative was particularly galling to Israelis, since the most recent incidents occurred near the Jordanian border, and suggested that the United States try to get this point across to the King. Telegram 982 from Amman, October 31, advised against making the approach suggested by Eban and urged telling the Israelis that the Embassy in Amman was convinced the Jordanians were doing everything possible to control Fatah. (Both ibid.)

1. Ambassador Harman called on Assistant Secretary Hare under instructions to discuss Israeli concern about continued terrorist incidents and failure of Security Council so far to act. Harman noted matter before Council for 17 days with no sign effective action./3/ Meanwhile there have been nine incidents, five of which from Jordan. This has stimulated atmosphere in area that terrorist raids can be made with impunity. Situation has deteriorated with different groups of raiders now almost operating in competition with each other. In addition to Fatah group, there now resurgence of Palestine Liberation Force group in Jordan (which left pamphlets at site of train derailment Oct. 27) and Organization of Returning Heroes in Lebanon. Finally, Jordanian delegate Farra has been following tactics in UN designed to obstruct and postpone action. Farra played central role last Friday/4/ in obstructing Council action. Jordanian MAC delegate Daoud continued be uncooperative. UNTSO's approach to investigating incidents led to failure fix responsibility for incidents even when circumstantial evidence clear. Summing up, Harman noted Foreign Minister Eban had discussed situation with Barbour yesterday with view to having USG ask GOJ to consider what is happening re terrorism and also to restrain Farra. Commenting that latest developments in Council today showed search for consensus had been fruitless, Harman urged we now go ahead with our resolution.

/3/A U.S.-British draft resolution, submitted on October 27, deplored the recent incidents, reminded the Syrian Government to take measures to prevent the use of its territory as a base for acts in violation of the Israeli-Syrian General Armistice Agreement (of July 20, 1949; UN document S/1353), called for strict adherence to the agreement, called on the Syrian and Israeli Governments to cooperate fully with UN machinery and to facilitate the work of UNTSO personnel, and requested the Secretary-General to follow closely the implementation of the resolution. (UN document S/7568) No vote was taken on the draft resolution.

/4/October 28. On that day, the Security Council agreed to a suggestion made by Mali, on behalf of Nigeria and Uganda, to adjourn the debate in order to hold broader consultations, with a view to avoiding the adoption of any resolution and seeking a consensus.

2. Ambassador Hare recalled our continuing dialogue with both Israel and Jordan. We had talked to both sides with sincerity and frankness which we believe has been reciprocated. Our Ambassador in Amman had discussed general situation only yesterday with Prime Minister Tell./5/ We evaluate Jordanian efforts control Fatah as being active and sincere. Ambassador Hare emphasized GOJ had recently moved troops to Syrian frontier area and had made arrests of Fatah personnel and uncovered arms caches. (Dept officer subsequently provided Minister Evron orally with GAS headquarters-coordinated, sterilized summary intelligence reports mentioned in Amman 982.) We had urged GOJ cooperation in MAC and had received positive assurances. Jordanians in good spirit had emphasized need for more active Israeli border patrolling as well to help control terrorist infiltrations. So far as Farra's performance concerned, he under great pressure as "Arab" representative on SC and had maintained considerable restraint until Friday. After USUN had reported what actually transpired we would mention factual details to GOJ. Meanwhile, we would continue our dialogue with Jordan in effort to be helpful.

/5/The conversation was reported in telegram 973 from Amman, October 29. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 32-1 ISR-JORDAN)

3. In further discussion of present situation in New York, Harman emphasized Israel expects Council to speak with clear voice on its complaint. Ambassador Hare rejoined that one important thing has been done, nevertheless. That is whole situation has been brought out more clearly. What has been learned has been to Israel's advantage. Going to Council has not been wasted effort./6/

/6/A draft resolution submitted on November 3 by Argentina, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, and Uganda deplored the incidents, invited the Syrian Government to strengthen its measures for preventing incidents in violation of the General Armistice Agreement, invited the Israeli Government to cooperate fully with the Israeli-Syrian Mixed Armistice Commission, called upon both governments to facilitate the work of UNTSO personnel, urged them to refrain from any action that might increase tension in the area, and requested the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council as appropriate. (UN document S/7575 and Rev. 1) On November 4, the Council voted on the draft resolution, which failed because of a Soviet veto. The vote was 10 to 4, with 1 abstention. The United States voted in favor.

For Amman: After receiving factual report from USUN concerning Farra's performance last Friday and subsequently, Embassy should seek occasion apprise Jordanian government at appropriate level and inquire if he acting under instructions.



331. Telegram From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State/1/

Tel Aviv, November 3, 1966, 0855Z.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, DEF 12 NEAR E. Secret; Exdis.

1540. Ref: State 68096./2/

/2/Telegram 68096 to Tel Aviv, October 18, transmitted the text of an oral message from Rusk to Eban. The message stated that Rusk hoped to have a second meeting with Eban while he was in the United States (for the first meeting, see Document 328) to discuss arms control, especially actions that might be taken to prevent the escalation of the Arab-Israel arms race into the nuclear field. Noting that this was a major U.S. concern, it expressed the hope that the U.S.-Israeli dialogue on the subject could continue. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, DEF 12 NEAR E)

1. After delays caused primarily by Security Council consideration of Israel complaint against Syria re Fatah, FonMin Eban and I finally had opportunity discuss together arms control in ME at long lunch session on Nov 2. Having heard me out on Secretary's oral message contained reftel, Eban made following points:

A. He had not for moment thought that lack of reference this subject at his Oct 7 meeting with Secretary indicated any loss of interest on our part.

B. GOI too has put considerable thought on this matter. As reflected in Raphael Nov 2 speech in New York GOI stands solidly behind anti-proliferation treaty and will give it active public and moral support.

C. From all evidence available to GOI, Egypt now fairly relaxed as to Israeli intentions re nuclear weapons.

D. In fact, PM has been convinced by President Johnson that effort keep Nasser uncertain as to Israeli intentions is no longer worth risk of Egyptian weapons escalation.

E. However, due Egyptian predilection for sabotage and plotting, GOI must find middle ground between letting Egyptians be assured GOI not manufacturing bombs and giving them full info as to Israel's scientific nuclear facilities.

F. Therefore, GOI cannot accept IAEA system of controls to which Egyptians have access at all levels and, furthermore, it wishes be sure we (and presumably others) do not pass on to Egyptians specifics as to location or functions of Israeli installations.

G. Possibility remains that some kind of political controls can be worked out but recent Egyptian speech in Vienna makes Israelis less convinced of Egyptian willingness.

H. Israelis too have hopes of being included in general non-proliferation treaty before long which they would prefer to being singled out in some special arrangement in way contrary Israel's sovereign status.

2. I pointed out that treaty not yet a reality and, much as we all support it, we do not know when it will be. Furthermore, this being imperfect world, Israeli gesture to assure its suspicious neighbors that it not moving toward nuclear weapons would promote peace of area. Acceptance of IAEA controls would be best way accomplish this. I suggested that although my instructions did not go this far, if Israel cannot see its way clear accept these, verification scheme including Israel and Egypt with third country is another possibility. Still another which would have advantage of being unilateral act of sovereign state would be GOI invitation to scientists of other countries to participate in research projects at Dimona.

3. Then I brought up May 24 conversation with PM in which he stated missiles were at least two years away (Embtel 1229 to Washington)/3/ and suggested that since UAR running into difficulties in missile development, this type of sophisticated weaponry too should be subject control arrangement.

/3/Document 293.

4. Eban said he not informed on history our missile discussions and would look into matter. He added that he would discuss points made in our conversation with PM and would get in touch with me for further discussion.

Comment: Although GOI does not appear any closer now than it ever was to accepting IAEA controls, I think we are making progress. It is significant that Eban now says President was successful in convincing PM that tactic of keeping Nasser in state of uncertainty as to GOI intentions was dangerous. Also, it hopeful sign that GOI is supporting anti-proliferation treaty and that Eban for first time appears genuinely interested in keeping dialogue going on this subject. Airgram with further report conversation follows./4/

/4/Airgram A-263, November 5. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, DEF 12 NEAR E)



332. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel/1/

Washington, November 13, 1966, 3:25 p.m.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 32-1 ISR-JORDAN. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Sisco, Davies, Atherton, Sterner, and Symmes; cleared by Hare and Sisco, and in substance by Goldberg; and approved by Davies. Wriggins at the White House was informed. Also sent to Amman and repeated to Beirut, Cairo, Jerusalem, London, and CINCSTRIKE.

83785. Ref: Tel Aviv's 1652./2/

/2/Barbour reported in telegram 1652 from Tel Aviv, November 13, that Foreign Ministry Assistant Director General Bitan gave him a message that the Israeli Government wanted to have passed to Jordanian authorities. (Ibid.)

1. You should inform Bitan and higher levels as appropriate that USG deplores Israeli attack on Jordan this morning./3/ As we have said frequently, we cannot agree to or condone such retaliatory action. Moreover, timing of action particularly embarrassing to King, who this morning is host to President Ayub. This retaliation coming a few days after the U.S. made a major effort over weeks of deliberation in the Security Council puts us in a particularly difficult position. Action can only make objective which we, Israelis and Jordanians alike seek of putting end to border raids more difficult to achieve. It will (a) place heavy domestic and external political strain on King Hussein's regime; (b) raise pressures for more militant posture toward Israel; (c) make much more difficult or impossible GOJ's carrying out anti-terrorist campaign in Palestinian areas of Jordan.

/3/An Israeli force including tanks and jet aircraft conducted a large-scale raid on villages in the Hebron area early on November 13.

2. We deplore terror attacks inside Israel and recognize domestic pressures for action created but we do not agree that incidents in which three Israeli soldiers killed left GOI with no recourse except retaliatory military action across ADL.

3. We are not willing deliver Israel's message to King Hussein. We have served as intermediary between Israel and Jordan in the interests of peace--not in the interests of facilitating or explaining Israel's policy of retaliation. Given extraordinary efforts GOJ root out terrorist nets of which we have kept Israel informed, our relaying message now could connote to Jordanians some justification in our minds for Israeli action. That action has seriously undermined credibility our efforts exert restraining influence, particularly in Jordan. We suggest Israelis pass sanitized explanation for raid to Jordan through General Bull or UNSYG.

4. You should note our feeling that moral and diplomatic support Israel garnered by recent Security Council debate has now been seriously affected. Those Afro-Asians and others who viewed Israel's restraint favorably and recognized terrorism resulted primarily from Syria's irresponsibility will undoubtedly take less sympathetic view Israeli case. Syria, for its part, can take comfort from Israeli strike against Jordan citing it as vindication SARG claim of non-responsibility for terrorist activities.

5. Ambassador Goldberg has passed essence of above to Comay.

For Amman

FYI. Having in mind GOJ's previous assertions of pressures on it to retaliate against Israel, believe you should continue efforts forestall thinking along those lines. End FYI. You may inform GOJ that we deplore Israeli action and will make this clear both publicly and to Israelis, but urge continued Jordan reliance on UNTSO and UN machinery in the area. Despite this backward step, we believe continued efforts eliminate use of Jordan territory for hostile acts against Israel essential for area stability and Jordan's security.



333. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson/1/

Washington, November 15, 1966.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Israel, Vol. VI. Secret.

Israel-Jordan Clash at Today's Lunch

I'm concerned that we haven't reacted strongly enough against Israel's massive raid into Jordan./2/ I suggest discussing this with Secretary Rusk at lunch./3/

/2/Rostow informed the President of the raid in telegram CAP 666983, sent to the LBJ Ranch on November 13, and summarized the U.S. response in a November 14 memorandum to the President. (Both ibid.)

/3/A November 15 memorandum from Read to Rusk states that Rostow called at noon to pass on suggestions from his staff of possible steps to underscore U.S. displeasure with the Israelis and to suggest that Rusk raise the matter at his lunch with the President that day. The suggestions included "talks with the Jewish Community here," slowing U.S. military deliveries, and a possible Presidential letter. Rostow discussed the suggestions with Hare, who opposed taking additional steps at that time. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 27 ARAB-ISR)

I'm not suggesting our usual admonition against retaliation. We'll maintain that posture, but I can sympathize with the Israelis' answer that they can't ignore increasing cross-border raids of Arab terrorists which generate strong pressures on the Israeli government to defend its border citizens. The coalition government can't stand up indefinitely to these pressures.

But retaliation is not the point in this case. This 3000-man raid with tanks and planes was out of all proportion to the provocation and was aimed at the wrong target.

In hitting Jordan so hard, the Israelis have done a great deal of damage to our interests and to their own:

--They've wrecked a good system of tacit cooperation between Hussein and the Israelis. We had his tacit agreement to keep his armor off the west bank of the Jordan, and he had made an honest effort to round up terrorists in Jordan. Continuing this kind of cooperation will be all but impossible now.

--They've undercut Hussein. We've spent $500 million to shore him up as a stabilizing factor on Israel's longest border and vis-a-vis Syria and Iraq. Israel's attack increases the pressure on him to counter attack not only from the more radical Arab governments and from the Palestinians in Jordan but also from the Army, which is his main source of support and may now press for a chance to recoup its Sunday losses.

--They've set back progress toward a long term accommodation with the Arabs. It makes even the moderate Arabs feel fatalistically that there is nothing they can do to get along with the Israelis no matter how hard they try. It puts a premium on extreme Arab chauvinism.

--They may have persuaded the Syrians, who are the main troublemakers, that Israel didn't dare attack Soviet-protected Syria but could attack US-backed Jordan with impunity.

It's important that we strengthen the hand of those within the Israeli Government who feel this is not the proper way to handle the problem. Even members of the Israeli military now doubt that retaliation will stop the cross-border raids, though they see no better solution.

We've already laid the groundwork for a sharp reaction, but this by itself doesn't go far enough. Ambassador Goldberg issued a statement in New York deploring the attack./4/ We refused to pass an Israeli message to King Hussein justifying the raid. We will probably support Jordan if it goes to the UN (though we'll also have to deplore the Jordan-based road-mining incident that killed three Israelis and provoked this attack). Ray Hare gave Ambassador Harman a pretty hard time this afternoon./5/ (Harman was more embarrassed than defensive.)

/4/The text of the statement issued by USUN on November 13 is in circular telegram 83788, November 13. (Ibid., POL 32-1 ISR-JORDAN)

/5/This November 14 meeting is recorded in telegrams 84604 and 84620 to Tel Aviv, both November 15. (Both ibid.)

To stimulate discussion, you may want to raise the following possibilities with Secretary Rusk:

--You could send a message to Eshkol restating our interests and making clear that Israel has undercut those interests as well as its own.

--We could leak the main points of such a message to the press or in UN corridors to rebalance our image with the moderate Arabs.

--We could slow down military deliveries to Israeli inconspicuously but just enough to make our point. Vietnam priorities could be an overt excuse.

--We might begin putting out the line with our Jewish friends here that the US can't go on supporting Israel's interests in the Middle East unless the Israelis themselves show some intent over the long run to reach an accommodation with the Arabs. This, after all, is what we are trying to do with the Indians and Pakistanis.

--The most constructive thing we could do looking to the future would be to offer help either through the UN or bilaterally to make available the latest techniques in border security. Many new simple devices have been successful in Vietnam and have been available on the open market.

This is delicate business, but you've put a high priority on finding new ways to get at the Arab-Israeli stalemate. This kind of Israeli move makes progress impossible. We've felt that, with Eban's appointment, the winds in Israel might begin to shift away from the old timers' idea of "fortress Israel" to the younger men's hopes for some kind of break in the impasse. We ought to come down on the side of accommodation where we can. If we don't this time, no one will ever believe we care.

W. W. Rostow/6/

/6/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.


334. Memorandum for the Record/1/

Washington, November 15, 1966.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Harold Saunders, Israel, 4/1/66-12/31/66. No classification marking. Prepared by Howard Wriggins on November 16.

Israeli/Jordan Flare-up

At the meeting of November 15 with the President, Secretary Rusk, and Mr. Rostow,/2/ the subject of Israel's massive conventional intrusion into Jordan was discussed.

/2/According to the President's Daily Diary, Rusk and Rostow met with the President at 1 p.m. At 1:05 p.m. they were joined by McNamara. They had lunch at 2:05 p.m., joined by Bill Moyers and Komer, until 3:40 p.m. Several subjects, not including Israel and Jordan, were on the agenda for discussion at lunch. (Ibid.)

The President asked Bob Komer to get in touch with Mr. Feinberg and Ambassador Harman to make clear in no uncertain terms our objections to the steps the GOI has taken.

Bob indicated that this in itself would do little good unless we made clear in these conversations that if the Israelis did this again, our military pipeline would begin to dry up.

The President agreed.



335. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel/1/

Washington, November 15, 1966, 8:39 p.m.

/1/Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 32-1 ISR-JORDAN. Secret. Drafted by UNP Deputy Director Stephen Campbell, cleared by Symmes, and approved by Sisco. Repeated to USUN, Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, London, and Jerusalem.

85342. Subj: Israel-Jordan.

1. Israeli Amb Harman called on Asst Sec Sisco Nov 15 to discuss Israel-Jordan SC case.

2. Harman said Nov 11 mining incident was great shock to GOI which found no link between it and Syria but considerable evidence pointing to unruly elements in Hebron area who were cocking fists at everybody including SC, GOJ, and Israel. He said GOI had to consider the results if it did nothing and allowed these elements to operate with complete impunity. He denied retaliation was GOI objective and asked what Israel could do in situation where people were unsafe in their homes and on roads. We have no objectives against GOJ, he said, if they leave us alone, we will leave them alone.

3. Amb said Israel wanted to avoid loss of life but operation didn't go according to plan when Jordan Legion appeared on scene.

4. He expressed hope our purposes for future could follow along common lines. Specifically a) that GOI and USG would regard Nov 13 incident as end not beginning of something; and b) a common position in SC.

5. Re latter point, he said unbalanced treatment could have very bad and far reaching results in area. If after getting only watered down and vetoed resolution in SC against Syria GOI now gets knocked down for this attack, psychological and practical results in area would be disastrous. He made special plea against invidious comparisons between official and open acts by GOI and what Arabs claim were acts by "unofficial" bodies. He said Israel also could indulge in "unofficial" strikes if it wished to. GOI hopes attempt will be made in SC and in area to make last weekend the end and not beginning of something and that SC does not take action which lends encouragement to acts which led to present situation.

7. Sisco said we are dismayed by Israeli attack. He said we thought both USG and GOI made out very well in Nov 4 SC case and noted GOI presented situation effectively to Israeli press and people. He recalled our repeated urging against retaliation strikes and noted our concern over the magnitude of IDF action.

8. Frankly, Sisco continued, we do not understand why you chose to attack Jordan since we both know Government of Jordan was trying to control terrorism and Syria was the chief culprit.

9. Sisco said USG is afraid this is not the end but the beginning. We are worried about effect of this situation on King Hussein and his government. He noted a) disarray in GOJ; b) disaffection in Jordan army on which King depends; c) consequent uncertainties of GOJ future policies; d) pressure on King to accept PLA unit which he has stoutly resisted in past; e) likely strong demand for arms by GOJ with resultant arms escalation.

10. Sisco noted US policies based on King and Israeli attack may be the beginning of the deterioration of that whole policy--a matter of deep concern and mutual interest to both USG and GOI.

11. Our primary concern he explained is what we can do to shore up King's position and this concern is bound to have important ramifications on what we do in SC.

12. NEA officer present then read Harman sections of Amman's 1118/2/ and commented that these reports indicated most serious anti-regime sentiments in recent times, even worse than April 1963. He noted GOI said attack was against terrorists but King and GOJ considered the attack against him and his regime. He said we had report directly from King noting his disillusionment and his belief his whole policy called into question./3/ DeptOff noted it would take time for us to reestablish our relations with King and GOI's relation with King through us.

/2/Telegram 1118 from Amman, November 15, reported increased popular discontent and criticism of the Jordanian Government because of the Israeli raid. (Ibid.)

/3/In telegram 1105 from Amman, November 14, Burns reported a meeting with the King in which he spoke along these lines. (Ibid.)

13. Sisco then concluded: GOI should expect two things in Council a) very strong statement by us and b) strong resolution. When Amb asked if it would be completely unbalanced, Sisco said he did not wish to go beyond that at this time.

14. Harman returned to his principal theme that Israel could not be expected to stand by and to permit provocations against them and killing of its own citizens without responding. He also emphasized pattern and series of past incidents. Sisco said he fully appreciated that raid does not represent isolated incident and that serious problem has arisen as result pattern of incidents over previous weeks and months. However, fact is that recent large-scale retaliatory raid has given new dimension to problem. Situation could evolve in such way that King would be seriously weakened, which is neither in interest of US nor GOI. We would have to take this fact particularly into account as we determined course of action in SC.



336. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant (Komer) to President Johnson/1/

Washington, November 16, 1966.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Israel, Vol. VI. Secret; Sensitive. A copy was sent to Rostow.

Warning the Israelis. I promptly called Abe Feinberg to pass the blunt word that Israel was "going too far" in striking Jordan and had better lay off. Feinberg was quite receptive, and said he'd just had a meeting with Jack Herzog of PM Eshkol's office, who admitted that the strike had proven "unexpectedly violent;" the original plan was just "to blow 40 houses." I replied that they should have thought of such risks before they acted, not after.

Feinberg asked if he should call Harman. I told him I'd do that myself, but that you hoped he as a special friend would get the word direct to Eshkol through his own channels. He agreed to do so.

I gave Ambassador Harman the same pitch this morning, stressing that I was speaking privately and unofficially. I added that, while I was no longer up on Arab-Israeli affairs, it seemed to me that Israel's ill-considered and grossly excessive strike might have utterly disproportionate repercussions in Jordan. Moreover, how could we supply tanks to Israel if it was going to use such armor against Jordan, and after we'd asked the Jordanians at Israel's request to keep their armor out of the frontier zone Israel had now struck. I told Harman that in the event of any more such strikes we were determined to "reexamine" our supply of arms of Israel, regardless of whether contracts had been signed or not. The Israelis had put in jeopardy our whole policy of promoting Arab-Israel stability by subsidizing an independent Jordan.

I asked Harman not to give me the standard reply, as I was no longer in the business. But he did ask me to convey privately to you that Eshkol was under heavy pressure "from his own conscience," because as PM and Defense Minister he couldn't even assure his own people that they could travel safely in their own country or sleep safely in their own homes at night. If Israel didn't strike back when repeatedly provoked, other Arabs besides those in Hebron might conclude that it was "a sitting duck."

I told Harman that you fully understood Israel's problems, but that use of force was dubious at best and use of such disproportionate force--against Jordan to boot--was folly indeed. It undermined the whole US effort to maintain Jordanian stability, which was so much in Israel's own interest that Israel's action was almost incomprehensible.

R. W. Komer/2/

/2/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature and an indication that the original was signed.


337. Memorandum From W. Howard Wriggins and Harold H. Saunders of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Special Assistant (Rostow)/1/

Washington, November 16, 1966.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Name File, Wriggins Memos. Secret.

Next Steps on Jordan-Israel

Amman's 1109 and 1120/2/ attached underscore the magnitude of the damage Israel has done in attacking Jordan.

/2/Telegrams 1109 and 1120 from Amman, November 15 and 16, are attached but not printed. Copies are in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 32-1 ISR-JORDAN.

The King in a private session [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] made it clear that he considers the unwritten agreement with Israel which had neutralized the Jordan-Israel border has "now been permanently shattered." He feels the only way he can discharge his obligation to his people is to beef up his military establishment with new equipment--hopefully from the US but from "the devil himself" if need be. He admits this buildup will cost Jordan much in both material and human resources.

The Embassy fears that the monarchy itself is in jeopardy. While the King says he will not counter-attack unless Israel attacks again, the pressure among his populace and junior officers to strike back is mounting. The Syrian radio is urging his junior officers to push him aside.

Embassy Amman feels we must (a) support a strong condemnation of Israel in the UN without coupling Israel's strike with earlier sabotage incidents and (b) announce suspension of our military aid and sales to Israel.

State is pressing the following actions in the next few days:

--NEA and IO have recommended a resolution that condemns Israel without mentioning the sabotage incidents. Goldberg's speech today did condemn Israel but Goldberg so far has not bought the IO-NEA recommendation on the resolution.

--If we confirm Jordanian charges that US Patton tanks were used in the Israeli attack, we will almost certainly have to suspend further shipments to Israel. Most of the tanks have gone, but we still have 80-85% of the refitting kits. Also, the Israelis have urgently requested some ammunition and we can be clumsy about meeting their demands on that.

--Letters from the President to both Hussein and Eshkol. The question is whether to wait till we have a clearer long-term position or to get something out quickly and follow up later.

--State is developing a series of graded actions for suspending military aid: delay one ammunition order this month; slow down the whole pipeline; temporarily suspend all aid and credits; and cancel.

These moves are all good tactical ones in the heat of this post-strike week. However, we ought to begin facing now the basic question of what kind of relationship between Israel and Jordan we can rebuild. We'll either have to give in to Hussein's expensive new arms requests or try to rebuild what the King today feels is "permanently shattered."

Our vote is to tackle the Israelis along these lines: They've wiped the slate clean by this attack and laid low the impressive tacit arrangement we've built over the years to neutralize the Israeli-Jordan border. They've probably wiped out the King's commitment not to station his army on the west bank. They've destroyed the running dialogue we had on controlling the cross-border terrorism. The King will shortly ask us for substantial quantities of military equipment and if we don't provide it, says he will go anywhere he can get it. So the Israelis have left us with a tremendous bill on our hands. We'd be entirely justified in suspending all aid to Israel simply to offset that bill. However, we'd like to try rebuilding what we can of the old tacit arrangement with Jordan. To do that, we need to know what we can count on from Israel. For instance, can we tell King Hussein we have a commitment from Israel not to strike again? Will Israel help build up the UN border-control system? If the Israelis are interested in this kind of arrangement, we will do what we can with the King.

State is not thinking clearly in these terms yet because it's still struggling with the details of our immediate reaction. Therefore, we should begin talking in these slightly longer range terms. One way to do this would be to ask for draft Presidential letters to both parties within a week designed to lay the groundwork for this kind of rebuilding.


338. Special Memorandum Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency/1/

No. 19-66

Washington, November 18, 1966.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Jordan, Vol. II. Secret.

Current Problems for the Jordanian Regime/2/

/2/This memorandum has been produced solely by CIA. It was prepared by the Office of National Estimates and coordinated with the Office of Current Intelligence and the Clandestine Services. [Footnote in the source text.]

1. The 13 November Israeli raid on the Hebron district of Jordan has shattered the modus vivendi which had lasted for several years along the Israeli-Jordan border. During this period, King Hussein had made a sustained effort to avoid provocations to Israel. This has involved such steps as preventing Arab saboteurs from crossing from Jordan into Israel and keeping his armored forces east of the Jordan River. These measures have been politically unpopular at home and have subjected him to criticism from other Arab states.

2. Hence, Hussein is particularly bitter at the size of the attack and the damage it caused. He feels he has been betrayed by an assault out of all proportion to the provocation. He has been--and would be--able to live with an occasional night-time foray by Israeli forces resulting in the destruction of, say, a police station and a few houses. However, the recent raid involved an infantry brigade supported by armor, aircraft, and artillery; it resulted in about 50 deaths--half of them Jordanian soldiers--and in the destruction of about 150 buildings. Jordan's army was clearly humiliated in the process.

3. The Israeli attack badly damaged Hussein's position at home. It made him vulnerable to attack by disaffected elements of his population, who argue that his policy of peaceful coexistence with Israel has been dictated by the US and has proved a failure. There is a glaring contrast between Israeli treatment of Jordan and of Syria, which had severely provoked the Israelis, had received public Soviet support, and had been left alone by Tel Aviv's army. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)/3/ is now redoubling its pressure for the establishment of Palestinian military units in Jordanian border villages, a move Hussein has resisted because such units would not be under his control. The pressures in the Jordanian Armed Forces for retaliation against Israel are very high.

/3/The PLO is a radical organization, established by agreement of the Arab rulers during the recently-ended period of Arab harmony. It is strongly supported by the UAR, which grants it extensive radio and other privileges. [Footnote in the source text.]

4. Hussein is aware that such feelings exist and will probably try to propitiate both military and civilian elements by stationing significant army units, including armor, on the West Bank of the Jordan River. He may also make a political gesture such as changing his Prime Minister. Hussein probably feels he cannot for the present use his security forces to prevent Syrian-trained saboteurs from operating through Jordan into Israel. The result will probably be an increase in sabotage incidents, which in turn may result in further major Israeli retaliations. Should such a raid occur in the next few months, Hussein would almost certainly feel compelled to retaliate, although he would probably try to keep Jordanian military action on a limited scale. He is aware that retaliation carries the risk of an expanded conflict, which could involve the bulk of his army, a process in which the latter would almost certainly be defeated.

5. The Israeli raid has caused extensive grumbling and discontented talk directed at the regime, but only one demonstration so far--at Hebron on 15 November. Emotions are running high, however--this is the worst single incident since Suez--and there could be disturbances in major towns and cities in Jordan. It would be particularly difficult for the regime to control demonstrations directed against Israel, and they could easily be diverted against the King. In this superheated atmosphere the prospects for an attempted coup or assassination cannot be ruled out.

6. The reactions of Jordan's Arab neighbors have been mixed. The Syrians have severely criticized Hussein for failing to deal strongly with Israel, but Cairo has been very restrained. Nasser is aware that if Hussein retaliated with a military strike at Israel, Cairo could be faced with a choice of coming to Jordan's support or of losing much prestige by staying aloof. The Syrians, on the other hand, can be expected to continue to train saboteurs and dispatch them to Israel through Jordan. They are intent upon causing trouble in both countries.

7. Even if the Jordanian regime gets through the immediate crisis, Hussein's position appears to have been damaged to an extent we cannot yet fully assess. He [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] and even at his best probably commands the allegiance of not more than a quarter to a third of the population. Hence, the regime's continuity requires that it not suffer too many public defeats in close succession. Failure of the regime to respond militarily to incidents occurring in the near future would almost certainly stimulate more determined plotting within the Armed Forces as well as widespread public disorder.

8. For some time, Hussein will feel compelled to take a harder line toward Israel. He will be forced into a military buildup, both for greater border security and to keep the military happy. He will certainly turn to the US for more military hardware and faster delivery. He will seek and probably get Saudi money to buy arms. If he does not obtain substantial help from these sources and if internal pressures increase, he will try to repair his relations with the radical Arab states and may turn to the Soviets for economic aid and possibly for arms. Tension along the border will almost certainly remain high, incidents are likely to be frequent, and Hussein's future will to a great degree depend on the scope and nature of Syrian and Israeli initiatives in this respect. Hussein himself is most unlikely to approach the question of Israeli-Jordanian relations as openmindedly and as positively as he has in the past.

9. The Israeli raid seems illogical and miscalculated to us, and there is evidence that it seems so to some segments of opinion in Israel as well. On the whole, and in the absence of further evidence, we think it most likely that the Israeli act was one of genuine retaliation, determined to be necessary to satisfy Israeli opinion, and (in the Israeli view) to throw fear into the Arabs and restrain them from further forays into Israel. As for why the Israelis attacked Jordan instead of Syria, one major concern was the greater military costs of an incursion into Syria. A decision was probably made some weeks ago to stage a major raid into Jordan as soon as a pretext arose. It also appears likely that Israel wished to avoid attacking Syria because of Syria's close relations with the USSR and Israel's desire not to worsen relations with that great power, especially in view of the large Jewish population in the USSR.

For the Board of National Estimates:

Sherman Kent


339. Telegram From the President's Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson in Texas/1/

Washington, November 20, 1966, 1820Z.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Special Head of State Correspondence File, Israel. Secret.

CAP 661007. The Israel-Jordan border situation remains explosive. Last Sunday's raid weakened King Hussein's ability to control terrorists operating into Israel from Jordan because he no longer has full cooperation of the army, which Israel badly mauled./2/ Another Israeli strike in retaliation for new incidents that could happen would force Hussein to counter attack.

/2/Telegram 1173 from Amman, November 19, reported that Prime Minister Tell told Burns that day that Jordan urgently needed U.S. help to prevent further deterioration of the situation in Jordan, including a strong Security Council resolution condemning Israel, delivery of certain defensive weapons to Jordan, beginning as soon as possible, and U.S. suspension of delivery of military items to Israel. (Department of State, Central Files, DEF 19-8 US-JORDAN) Telegram 1176 from Amman, November 19, reported that in a meeting with Burns that evening, King Hussein underscored the importance of the requests. (Ibid.)

I. Our first job, therefore, is to keep Israel from attacking again. Secretary Rusk recommends a tough message to Eshkol which says we would have to reassess our last year's decision to supply military equipment if Israel attacks again. Since we have already sent a number of tough signals, he hesitates to recommend unqualifiedly that you send this message and volunteers to deliver it himself via Harman if you prefer. (The last paragraph is our suggestion to which working levels at state are agreeable. There has been no time to get it to Secretary Rusk.)

I recommend you send it yourself for Ambassador Barbour to pass orally to Eshkol for three reasons:

1. Sunday's attack badly damaged our ability to go on stabilizing Israel's Jordanian border. Ambassador Harman now understands this, but we're not sure Israeli leaders in Jerusalem do. Asking Barbour to deliver it there will have greater impact. The Israelis have gravely damaged the unspoken truce we've helped them build with Hussein--including possibly the agreement in return for our plane and tank sale not to station Jordanian armor on the West Bank of the Jordan near Israel. They've upset your delicate and successful balancing act in selling jets to Jordan to keep the Soviets out. He is now reported to be receiving Soviet equipment offers and is making requests to us for substantial additional equipment. The Israelis must be made to realize that if they retaliate again, in response to anything short of a major attack, our ability to stabilize the area may be crippled.

2. Bringing home to them that they've undercut your policies will strengthen your hand for whatever we may have to ask Israel to do later to re-stabilize the situation.

3. We also want to use this opening to jolt Israeli leaders into realizing that they can't go on looking to us for protection over the long haul unless they make some effort of their own to coexist with their neighbors. In view of your stance that reconciliation not aggression is the way to solve problems, we can't miss this opportunity to challenge a policy that is leading us all up a dead-end street in the Middle East. Many of Israel's new leaders doubt that the old retaliation policy of Ben Gurion is wise and believe Israel can only survive by working toward accommodation with the Arabs. Their bad mistake last weekend will sharpen debate over this issue. This message from you laid before Eshkol personally would bring them up short and may help the moderates turn the corner.

II. Our second job is to put Hussein back on his feet. His regime has been severely shaken and he has asked us for substantial additional amounts of military equipment. He wants some of it to be airlifted for dramatic impact to undercut critics who charge that he is incompetent to defend Jordan. We do not want to feed his belief that his only response is to build a defense establishment he cannot afford, but we will have to try to meet his problem of demonstrating to his people that he's doing all he can.

One way to do this is to speed up a few items in the military aid pipeline. We don't like this, but the alternative again is to stand by and watch the Egyptians and Soviets happily pour the stuff in. The sensible long-term approach is to send a mission or possibly missions to work out effective ways to seal off the Israel-Jordan border. That's the real problem, and the sooner we divert his attention to that, the better. I suggested the idea to Secretaries Rusk and McNamara. They are exploring possibilities along these lines.

If we speed up Jordan's pipeline, we will have to tell Israel why and ask them to restrain critics here. We would also have to offer similar border-control help to Israel because, in all fairness, they can only give up retaliation if they find some other way to deal with Arab terrorists.

We will push staff work on this today and be back to you quickly with a concrete response to Hussein. But the most immediate need is to restrain Israel and lay a strong bargaining base for whatever long-range scheme we can work out.

I also think it would be a good idea for me to spell out our thinking to Feinberg as soon as we have ourselves lined up. We may have to look like we're making some anti-Israeli gestures before we're done, and a little pre-emptive briefing might help.

Approve message for direct transmission to Eshkol via Barbour
Ask Secretary Rusk to deliver it/3/
Keep last paragraph
Delete last paragraph
Talk with Feinberg/4/
Not now

/3/The President added the following handwritten note: "this message as his own to Harman & you inform Feinberg of contents & ask him to notify his friends of urgency. Another message may be necessary later." An attached note states that the President's wishes were relayed to Rostow by telephone from the LBJ Ranch at 8 a.m. on November 21. The message reads: "Rostow: Ask Secy Rusk to deliver this message as his own to Harman and you inform Feinberg of contents and ask him to notify his friends of the urgency. Tell Rostow it may be necessary for me to send another message later, so I will let Rusk deliver the first one."

/4/The President checked this option.

Suggested Message to Prime Minister Eshkol

"You are aware of our concern at the events of November 13 and their impact on the stability of the regime in Jordan. I am sympathetically aware of the painful dilemma posed by your need both to protect Israel's citizens and to promote peace with your neighbors. Just two weeks ago we made our position on terror incidents mounted from across your border clear beyond question in the Security Council hearings on your complaint against Syria. But while recognizing your problem, I must recognize also that the fact of the raid on Jordan and its magnitude have raised threats to United States interests and, I believe, to those of Israel.

Sunday's raid has set in motion developments in Jordan the outcome of which at this juncture we cannot fully assess. But the position of King Hussein's government and United States interests have been gravely affected. Another such action, no matter what the cause, could bring on irreparable damage. The implications of such action for Israel's security and for area stability would therefore be serious indeed.

Continued application of the policy of military retaliation by Israel raises concern here as to the supply of some categories of United States military equipment to Israel. You will recall that it was only after exhaustive consideration of the military situation in the Middle East that we agreed last year to an exception to our long-standing policy on arms sales. This decision was not easily arrived at. It was taken in the belief that it would contribute to stability in the area. In full candor, I must make certain you are aware that further punitive forays by Israel across armistice lines in the Near East could bring a reassessment of the premises on which our decisions regarding military supply to Israel were based.

These are troubled times, Mr. Prime Minister, when peace is fragile and stability more necessary than ever. Just as there have been events that disturb the peace, there may be in the future more such events. In these circumstances it is the hardest and highest task of government to hold fast to course of moderation and reason. It is because I know you share with me these views that I know I can count on you not only to recognize the peril but also to have the determination to avoid it.

Beyond this present situation, there is also the need to look toward Israel's eventual coexistence with its neighbors. I well know from my own country's experience along its long borders how difficult--but also how essential--this is. It has also been part of our experience that out of a crucible such as the present crisis can come small but sound steps toward a more stable and secure future."

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