King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life


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The tacit alliance took several forms.

Who Was King Hussein of Jordan?

Shlaim and Ashton confirm that the first direct contacts began in mid-September , when Hussein dispatched Lt. Several factors prompted Hussein to establish direct dialogue with Israel. According to Shlaim, he was persuaded that Israel was an established fact and that he would therefore need to come to terms with it sooner or later, especially because both countries shared a common interest in maintaining quiet along extensive and poorly demarcated armistice lines. Also, both faced a common foe in the form of a nascent radical Palestinian nationalism and were politically aligned with the West during the cold war.

Believing that Israel exerted substantial influence over American Middle East policy, Hussein also hoped that his amicable relationship with Jerusalem would help Jordan solidify its closer ties with the United States. The de facto alliance was further cemented during another secret Hussein-Herzog meeting in London on December 19, Herzog informed Hussein that Israel had discreetly lobbied Congress for additional economic aid to Jordan, and Hussein pledged that he would not permit the stationing of foreign troops on Jordanian soil or deploy American tanks on the West Bank.

Given previous assurances by Israel that it would respect Jordanian territory, Hussein felt deeply betrayed by Israel following the raid that inflicted numerous civilian and military casualties in retaliation for recent murders of Israelis by Fatah guerrillas based in Jordan. Although Israel eventually apologized for the attack in a letter from Herzog to Hussein, the king became convinced that the encounter at Samu was the first step toward an Israeli takeover of the West Bank.

Both biographers agree that Hussein made several serious blunders before the outbreak of war on June 5.

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Third, he in essence relinquished to General Riad the decision to commit Jordan to war. It was the general who actually ordered the firing of Jordanian artillery on West Jerusalem — on the basis of false intelligence from Abdel Hakim Amer, the deputy commander of the Egyptian armed forces, about decisive Egyptian battlefield victories on the morning of June 5. Fourth, Hussein failed to verify the false information fed to Riad from Egypt.

Ashton is more charitable in his treatment of Hussein during this crisis. He claims that the king had found out about the planned Israeli attack against Egyptian airfields and passed that information to Nasser in two telephone calls during the last three days before the outbreak of war.

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King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life

Nasser, however, decided to ignore the warnings. During the following six years, high-level Jordanian and Israeli officials held 32 secret meetings, most of them in London and some in Wadi Araba, south of the Dead Sea. Hussein participated in 19 sessions and offered his interlocutors a full peace in return for Israeli withdrawal to the lines of June 4, , leaving open the possibility of minor reciprocal adjustments of the borders.

When Prime Minister Meir finally presented a plan in June that enabled Israel to keep control over the unpopulated areas and a growing number of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the king found it totally unacceptable. Shlaim suggests that Hussein nevertheless continued to engage the Israelis due to fear and hope: Ashton claims that Israel had no intention to negotiate seriously with Jordan, dragging out the talks to gain time and reassure Washington by creating the impression that it was actively seeking peace.

Ashton and Shlaim disagree about what transpired at a secret meeting between Hussein and Meir held at Mossad headquarters a few days before the outbreak of the war. Ashton claims that Hussein had received from his intelligence sources details of the Syrian battle plans, including the precise date of the attack, and that he revealed this information to Meir. She, however, ignored this intelligence, fearing that Hussein was deceiving her with disinformation.

Shlaim, on the other hand, maintains that Hussein did not warn Meir of the impending war but merely emphasized the dangers of the continuing diplomatic deadlock. Clearly, Hussein had learned from the debacle. He made sure that the single armored brigade the Jordanian army had deployed on the Golan front was involved in only one skirmish with the Israel Defense Forces. Of the 21 covert meetings between Israeli and Jordanian officials during the following two decades, the session between Hussein and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres on April 11, , was by far the most significant.

King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life by Nigel John Ashton

It produced the London Agreement, which envisioned direct and bilateral negotiations and a peace settlement, based on UN resolutions and , with the Palestinians participating in a joint delegation with Jordan. The Israeli-Jordanian alliance survived the continuing diplomatic impasse during the following seven years. According to Shlaim, at a meeting held in London between Shamir and Hussein on January 5, , weeks before the start of Desert Storm, Hussein agreed to disallow the deployment of foreign troops on Jordanian soil.

Hussein also relayed to Saddam a warning that Israel would retaliate with all its might for an Iraqi attack with unconventional weapons against Israel. The king decided to conclude the treaty for several reasons: Ashton notes that, like his grandfather, Hussein held a paternalistic attitude toward the Palestinians, believing that it was in their best interest to become part of a Hashemite kingdom that included the West Bank. Following the formation of the PLO in , the king opposed the emergence of a separate Palestinian identity and the establishment of an independent Palestinian power base on the West Bank.

In September , Hussein unleashed his army against various Palestinian Fedayeen groups that had ensconced themselves as a state within a state on the East Bank, resulting in a bloody civil war and the eventual expulsion of some 3, guerrillas from Jordan. In an effort to regain a modicum of control over the territory he had lost to Israel in June , Hussein proposed on March 15, , a federation between the West Bank and Jordan, with East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian region.

The plan was rejected by Israel and condemned by the Arab world. But the king failed to get Arafat to agree to the three U.


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Hussein eventually decided to disengage Jordan from the West Bank on July 31, In essence, the king determined that he was no longer willing to negotiate over the status of the West Bank with either Israel or the PLO. According to Shlaim, Hussein was taken completely by surprise when Arafat told him about the Oslo accords. He believed that the Palestinians ended up with an uneven bargain and feared that Israel had decided to abandon its de facto partnership with Jordan in favor of a formal one with the PLO.


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    King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life
    King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life
    King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life
    King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life
    King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life
    King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life
    King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life
    King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life King Hussein of Jordan: A Political Life

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