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Lyndon Johnson Administration: Memorandum on Hussein Letter Revealing Secret Meetings With Israel

(December 12, 1966)

This letter discusses King Hussein's statement that he had been meeting with top Israeli officials for three years prior to Israel's raid on Jordan, and had been assuring them that he was quashing terrorist activities in his country.

Mr. President:

You should read this quite extraordinary revelation by Hussein./2/

/2/A copy of telegram 1457 from Amman, undated but received December 11, is attached to this memorandum. It reported that during the conversation reported in telegram 1456, from Amman (Document 362), King Hussein told Burns that he had been in contact with Israeli leaders for the past 3 years through secret correspondence and meetings. He stated that he had met with Golda Meir, Eban, and others, had told them that he had done his utmost to eliminate terrorism against Israel from Jordan, and had warned them that he could not absorb or tolerate a serious retaliatory raid. Expressing great bitterness, he declared that the attack was a complete betrayal of his efforts in the interest of peace and stability. A copy is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL JORDAN-US.

Among experts there is some doubt as to its truth; but it could be that the contacts existed in a very narrow circle and were not known to the whole government or to the Israeli military. In that case, as they faced heavy pressure to retaliate, those who had the contacts would have been in a most difficult bind.

This final warning about secrecy is justified.


Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Jordan, Vol. III. Top Secret; Sensitive.

Sources: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, V. 18, Arab-Israeli Dispute 1964-1967. DC: GPO, 2000.