Israel-Jordan Relations: Israel's Response to King Hussein's Federal Plan
(March 16, 1972)
Several days ago, the world was told that King Hussein was about to make a highly important political statement affecting the future of the region. Various commentators ascribed far-reaching significance to this expected speech, and there were some who wanted to see it as a step towards a peace agreement with Israel. This wave of interest on the eve of the speech is quite comprehensible in view of the sincere expectations and desires that exist and the wish to see our area emerging from the era of wars and advancing towards peace. But the magnitude of the expectations has been matched by the magnitude of the disappointment.
After broadcasting a series of march tunes, the Jordanian radio transmitted the king's address, which the announcer described as a historic pronouncement.
In this speech, the king announced, after an ideological introduction, a plan for a new stage of his kingdom and its establishment as a United Arab Kingdom, which, according to him, would consist of Palestine and Jordan. He gave details of this United Kingdom. He spoke of the strong bonds between the two Banks. He stated that the armed forces of the kingdom, composed of select persons from both Banks, would always be ready to absorb sons from both parts of the kingdom in loyalty and devotion to the aims of victory. He went on to declare that any attempt to cast doubts on the plan was tantamount to treason against the unity of the kingdom and the homeland, and he proclaimed the opening of a new and illustrious page in the annals of the nation. In his ideological introduction, Hussein spoke of "Zionist plots" and defined the aims of Jordan after the Six Day War as a determined stand to liberate the land and his brethren from Israeli occupation in "abidance by the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people" and called for perseverance on the road of "sacrifice and hope, until we restore the right". At the end of his statement he called upon every Palestinian outside Jordan to join his brethren in marching together until the achievernent of the goal of liberation. And he concluded with the hope and the promise that "God will grant us victory".
We have heard the speech of the King of Jordan. It does not bring tidings of peace, it is not founded on the principle of agreement and does not display readiness for negotiations. It is a pretentious and one-sided statement, which not only does not serve the interests of peace but is liable to spur on all the exextremist elements whose aim is war against Israel.
In all this detailed plan, the term peace is not even mentioned and it is not based on the concept of agreement. The whole of King Hussein's proposal is based on the assumption that he is capable of reaching a solution of the controversial problems at issue without an agreement between our States, as if he could dictate to Israel the plan that he has put forward. This is a plan dealing with territories which are not under his control and which he strives to obtain by "liberation".
In his speech, as we have seen, Hussein announces the establishment of a United Arab Kingdom to consist of Jordan and Palestine. Of what does Palestine, according to him, consist? Palestine consists of the West Bank and of any Arab land that may be liberated. In his speech King Hussein makes no mention at all of the State of Israel as a country with which settlement and agreement have to be reached. The State of Israel, according to this conception, is nothing more than the result of a Zionist plot to dominate Palestine, and the task of Jordan and the Arabs is to liberate the soil of Palestine from this plot. He tries to give this goal of liberation historic dimension by recalling that as early as 1921, after the Balfour Declaration, it was Jordan's task "to save the West Bank from Zionist plots", and again, in 1948 "to save a large part of it and also succeeded in conquering the sacred place in the Old City of Jerusalem, thereafter known as Arab Jerusalem".
Only through such an approach to Israel can we explain the fact that in the plan under discussion King Hussein makes no mention of negotiations and agreement with Israel, but speaks about the liberation of Palestine.
Pretentiousness is a pervading characteristic of Hussein's address. According to his plan, King Hussein does not confine himself to the liberation of the administered territories. He goes further. Just as he claims Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, so he does not limit the concept of Palestine to the administered territories, but extends it to our country as a whole. He crowns himself King of Jerusalem and envisions himself as the ruler of larger territories than were under his control prior to the rout of June 1967. The king defines the results of the participation of Jordan in the Six-Day War as a "disaster", but, unfortunately, five years later he puts forward a plan which goes to show that he has failed to learn the lesson from this disaster.
Had the King of Jordan seen fit to change the designation of the Kingdom of Jordan and to call it by the name of Palestine, the United Arab Kingdom or any other name, had he seen fit to introduce changes in the internal structure of his kingdom, if, after negotiations between us, we were to reach agreement, including the territorial issue - it would not then have been our concern to take a stand on internal matters which are within Jordan's sovereign competence and we would not have interfered in them just as we have never interfered in the internal structure or the nature of the régime of any country whatsoever. In the present case, however, the king is treating as his own property territories which are not his and are not under his control. In the fervour of his enthusiasm as a liberator of territories and a setter-up of kingdoms, he has gone so far as to designate Jerusalem - Israel's eternal capital, as the capital of Palestine.
it was only for the purpose of camouflage that the plan was presented as being nothing but Jordan's internal affair, and the only truth of the matter is that this plan affects Israel's most vital interests.
It would be a grave mistake on Jordan's part to inflame Palestinian expansionist passions. No problem can be solved in a manner incompatible with an agreement with Israel or without an agreement with it. Any constructive solution can be obtained only through understanding and agreement with Israel.
Israel will continue to pursue its enlightened policy in Judaea and Samaria and will maintain the policy of open bridges. It will continue to look after the provision of services to the inhabitants of Judaea and Samaria, and will respect every peaceful and law-abiding citizen.
Israel took a favourable view of the internal stability of Jordan's abstention from participation in the attempts to activate the eastern front. This abstention serves the interests of Jordan and impedes the renewal of hostilities in the region.
It is hard to imagine a country to which peace would be more beneficial than to Jordan. Provided Jordan continues to act in accordance with its genuine and independent interests, and renounces pretensions and sterile plans, it will be able to direct its resources and efforts into constructive channels, while maintaining good neighbourly relations with Israel and benefiting thereby.
The plan proclaimed by King Hussein cannot serve as a basis for an agreement with Israel. Those who are trying to create the false impression that it is an agreed programme, or the product of prior discussion with us, are being ridiculous. The entire plan is a surprise invention of its authors.
No unilateral declarations or actions whatsoever will bring Jordan one inch nearer to peace. No sophistry, even if it wins banner headlines, will lead to any constructive change. There is only one way which has any prospects, namely, serious negotiations for a peaceful solution, a bold and realistic effort to reach understanding and agreement. Any other way will be futile. Israel is faithful to its policy: it is maintaining the situation as determined in the cease-fire agreements. It will endeavour to strengthen its position in compliance with the needs of its security and development, and is ready, with all its heart, for serious peace negotiations.
The Knesset has duly noted the Prime Minister's statement of 16 March 1972, regarding the speech made by the King of Jordan on 15 March 1972.
The Knesset has determined that the historic right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel is beyond challenge.
The Knesset authorizes the Government of Israel to continue its policy in accordance with its basic principles, as approved by the Knesset on 15 December 1969, according to which: "The Government will steadfastly strive to achieve a durable peace with Israel's neighbours founded on peace treaties achieved by direct negotiations between the parties. Agreed, secure and recognized borders will be laid down in the peace treaties.
The peace treaties will assure co-operation and mutual aid, the solution of any problem that might be a stumbling-block in the path to peace, and the avoidance of any aggression, direct or indirect.
Israel will continue to be willing to negotiate - without prior conditions from either side - with any of the neighbouring States for the conclusion of a peace treaty. Without a peace treaty, Israel will continue to maintain in full the situation as established by the cease-fire and will consolidate its position in accordance with the vital requirements of its security and development.
The Knesset supports the Government in its endeavours to further peace by negotiating with the Arab States according to the resolutions of the Knesset.
Sources: Israeli Foreign Ministry