State Dept. Cool to Israel’s Demand for Direct Talks with Jordan

Department of State sources today indicated that the Secretary General of the United Nations is checking with the United States Government to determine the American attitude toward Jordan’s action in evading Israel’s demand for direct high-level talks under Article XII of the Israel-Jordan armistice agreement by means of a counter-proposal. It was indicated here that the State Department has no inclination to be harsh on Jordan in this matter. High officials feel that they are not sure the article had to be invoked.

If talks between Jordan and Israel could be brought about in some other way, the United States would support a Jordanian alternative solution which suggests that the talks be conducted through the United Mixed Armistice Commission. The Department would be glad to see any meeting. It was said, as long as the basic issues were discussed. It was stressed that Secretary of State Dulles’ expression last week in favor of direct Israel-Jordan talks should not be interpreted as an indorsement of Israel’s invocation of Article XII as such, but as only an expression generally in favor of the idea of Israel-Jordan negotiations.

It was emphasized that the United States is not convinced that Article XII should be firmly enforced at this time because it is felt some other way. less offensive to Jordan, may be found to bring about the talks desired by Israel.

There was a tendency here to feel that Israel might be “over-emotional” in trying to “force the issue” and thereby “not facilitating” United Nations efforts to calmly arrive at a solution agreeable to both Jordan and Israel. The Israel Government, however, feels its move in invoking Article XII to be a logical and necessary step to force Jordan into a situation in which it would have to discuss questions vital to peace and security in the area.

Israel views Jordan’s reply to the United Nations as a trick and an evasion of the fundamental issue by introduction of a counter-proposal. Israelis feel that Article XII makes an Israel-Jordan meeting mandatory and that the United Nations should support the armistice agreement which it helped bring into being.

(Israeli circles at the United Nations today declined to comment on Jordan’s suggestion to the UN that instead of direct high-level Jordan-Israel talks on the armistice agreement, such talks be conducted through the Mixed Armistice Commission. It is understood that the Israel Government feels that the issue is no longer an Israel-Jordan question, but a question affecting the prestige of the UN, and therefore must be handled by the UN. Jordan’s refusal to comply with Article XII is considered an attempt to defy the UN authority.)

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