186. Memorandum From Director of Central Intelligence Helms to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

SUBJECT

  • Fatah Request for Contact with U.S. Officials

1. Further to my memorandum of 5 November 19702 concerning our contact [2 lines not declassified] in our most recent meeting with [less than 1 line not declassified] he reported that Fatah has now completed preliminary plans for the creation of a Palestine State. According to [name not declassified] Fatah Chief Yasir Arafat’s recent trip to Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and North Africa covered one purpose only: the creation of this Palestine State.

2. [name not declassified] stated that all Arab States with the exception of Jordan have now agreed on Arafat’s decision and method of establishing a State of Palestine having full sovereignty and independence, and to include the territories of the West Bank of Jordan, the Gaza Strip—with unimpeded access between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip—certain (unstated) portions of the East Bank of Jordan, and internationalization of the Old City of Jerusalem. [name not declassified] said that Arafat “has this in his hand right now.” (Comment: Earlier in CSDB–312/02905–70 dated 14 October 1970,3 we reported Fatah’s plans to create a National Front, from which they envisage the emergence of a Palestine State similar to the above, with the added specific notation that the East Bank territory to be included in this State would be the East Bank of Jordan west of the Ramtha-Amman-Ma’an line.)

3. According to [name not declassified] all Arab States except Jordan have now accepted Fatah’s position as the only sure way to bring lasting peace to the area. Fatah’s point to the Arab rulers was simply that once all displaced Palestinians were in one place, the other Arab States would no longer have to worry about Israeli retaliation, and the Palestinians themselves would never venture attacks against Israel because Israel could easily destroy them since the Palestinians would possess no conventional military capability. [name not declassified] said that King Husayn was now trying to set up an Arab Summit Conference to discuss a “Palestinian Entity” but this will come to nothing be[Page 650]cause the issue is already settled: all Arab States except Jordan have already agreed to Fatah’s plans for creating a Palestinian State. [name not declassified] said that Fatah had learned that King Husayn had received a “deputation” from the West Bank, the members of which stated that they wanted to remain with Jordan and that King Husayn would present this as “evidence” at his proposed Arab Summit Conference. However, according to [name not declassified] such a presentation will be meaningless as the issue has already been resolved.

4. Continuing, [name not declassified] said that with the agreement of all Arab States (except Jordan) to the establishment of this Palestine State, the key to the whole situation now is the United States Government, and this is a matter of extreme urgency. [name not declassified] asserted that the USG and Fatah must sit down at a senior level within the next week to ten days in order to review each others’ positions “before it is too late.” Once the decision on creation of a Palestinian State becomes open knowledge, either at the Arab Summit or at a time of Fatah’s choosing, then the USG will be obliged to indicate its position openly regarding annexation to the Palestine State of some regions of present-day Jordan. It would be wise, [name not declassified] said, to discuss the Fatah position now, so that understanding could guide the actions of USG officials. [name not declassified] said that if the USG tries to oppose annexation of those Jordanian territories demanded by Fatah and agreed to by the other Arab States (except Jordan), Fatah and the Arab States “would respond harshly.” Speaking dramatically but not threateningly, [name not declassified] said that if the USG tries to stop this, “we will look at each other through a wall of flames.” [name not declassified] said that the USG must understand the absolute and utter frustration of the Palestinian people, and that while he fully realized that Palestinian fighters would end up the ultimate losers in a head-on confrontation with the United States on this subject, the loss of life and property which could be avoided by a simple and timely exchange of ideas between Fatah and the USG required that he present Fatah’s case in the most vivid manner possible.4

Richard Helms 5
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 208, Agency Files, CIA. Secret; Sensitive. All brackets are in the original except those indicating text that remains classified. A copy was sent to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.
  2. Document 180.
  3. Not found.
  4. In his January 7, 1971, memorandum to Kissinger, Helms reported that the CIA had maintained “discreet contact” with [name not declassified] since November 24, including a meeting with him on [text not declassified]. At the meeting, [name not declassified] asked that “the political attitude of the U.S. Government toward the Palestinian movement be clarified before any further meeting takes place, and that this clarification must be in the form of an official agenda of topics to be discussed at this next meeting.” Helms wrote: “It is possible he means what he has said and that he will refuse further meetings without the promise of some substantive discussion of U.S. policy on the Palestine question. We shall endeavor, however, to induce him to continue to maintain at least occasional contact with us for ‘the informal exchange of views.’” (Central Intelligence Agency, ODCI Files, Job 80B01086A)
  5. Helms signed “Dick” above his typed signature.