161. Editorial Note

On September 6, 1970, Israel announced it would withdraw from talks under UN Special Representative Gunnar Jarring’s supervision due to what an Israeli communiqué described as grave and continuing violations of the cease-fire agreement. (Telegram 1845 from USUN, September 9; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1156, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, June Initiative Vol. IV, August 28-November 15, 1970) Little more than two weeks earlier, on August 24, Jarring had announced at the United Nations that the Governments of Israel, Jordan, and the United Arab Republic had appointed representatives for discussions that were intended to reach an “agreement on the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.” (Telegram 1734 from USUN, August 24; ibid.) Israel’s September 8 communiqué explained: “The strictest observance of the ceasefire-standstill agreement is one of the central elements of the American peace initiative and of the talks under the auspices of Amb Jarring. Therefore, so long as the ceasefire-standstill [Page 546] agreement is not observed in its entirety, and the original situation restored, Israel will not be able to participate in these talks.”

In Jordan, the government and the fedayeen were approaching open conflict. On September 2, Kissinger sent a memorandum to Nixon informing him that “Fedayeen-controlled Palestine Liberation Army units attached to the Iraqi Army, the Al Qadissiya Forces” had moved into Amman that day and that regular Iraqi units had “moved into positions alongside Fedayeen units.” Jordanian and fedayeen forces had already begun to exchange fire, and the Embassies in Amman and Beirut reported that King Hussein was considering a declaration of martial law. (Ibid., Box 615, Country Files, Jordan, Vol. V) The crisis escalated September 6 to 9 when the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijacked four airplanes and forced three of them to land at Dawson’s Field, an airport 20 miles from King Hussein’s palace. By September 16, a full-scale civil war was underway, attracting other regional actors, including Syria, which positioned troops along its border for a possible invasion of Jordan in defense of the Palestinian guerrillas, and Israel, which was ready to support Hussein’s regime by force if necessary. The episode ended on September 25 with the government’s suppression and dispersal of the fedayeen, an event commonly referred to as “Black September” by Palestinians and other Arabs. Extensive documentation on the Nixon administration’s response to the Jordan crisis is printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXIV, Middle East Region and Arabian Peninsula, 1969–1972; Jordan, September 1970.