Israel Concerned over Nature of Jordan’s New Pro-guerrilla Coalition Government

Israeli officials expressed concern today over the nature of the new pro-guerrilla coalition government that took office in Jordan yesterday with King Hussein’s blessings and an exhortation to prepare for all-out war against Israel. The 17-member coalition, headed by Premier Abdel Moneim Rifai, is top-heavy with hard-liners, some of whom may have been hand-picked by the Fedayeen, government circles here said. They were especially perturbed by King Hussein’s formal message to the new cabinet in which he stated that the Jordanian Army would fight side-by-side with the Palestinian guerrillas and authorized the new government to obtain weapons from any sources, presumably not excluding the Soviet Union. Israelis pointed out that the message was the first in which King Hussein ever referred to the guerrillas in a favorable light. They believe the new government is the price he paid for retaining his throne following the bloody clashes earlier this month between Jordanian regulars and guerrilla bands.

No fewer than eight of the new cabinet ministers openly sided with the terrorists in that crisis. Among them are Abdel El Faiz, former speaker of the Jordanian Parliament who is the new Minister of State for Prime Ministerial Affairs; Anton Atallah, who was expelled from the West Bank by the Israelis after the Six-Day War for incitement, now Foreign Minister; Sheikh Al Hamid Al Sayegh, another expellee, now Minister of Religious Affairs and Religious Trusts; Fawaz Russan, Minister of Justice; Kassemel Rimawi, formerly of Rammalah now Minister of Municipal Affairs; Dr. Daoud Al Husseini, a member of the family of the ex-Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin el-Husseini who collaborated with Hitler during World War II, now Minister of Economic Affairs and Suliman al Hadidi, a close ally of El Fatah chief Yasir Arafat, now Minister of Public Works. On the other hand, one of Hussein’s trusted lieutenants, Abdel, Wahab al Majali who was reportedly slated to be Premier, was given the defence portfolio instead because of guerrilla threats, Israeli sources said. They said that while none of the new ministers is a guerrilla leader himself, this is only because the guerrillas are satisfied that they can now control the government without having to bear ministerial responsibility.

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