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Israel Reacts Coldly to Hussein

Israel reacted coldly today to King Hussein’s remark that it had been “absurd not to recognize Israel for 34 years.” Government officials argued that the monarch’s statement, during a British television interview, was nothing more than “an optical observation that Israel exists.” It contained no readiness to negotiate, and no readiness to live in peace and normal relations with the Jewish State, these officials maintained.

Hussein, in the interview on BBC’s “Panorama” program, spoke of normalization once peace had been established. He envisaged a federation between a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza and his own Hashemite kingdom.

But the Israeli officials insisted that this “vague, hypothetical” talk of peace in the future was “absurd.” If Hussein were sincere, he would pronounce himself ready to negotiate here and now, “not merely imply that he is ready to re-take the West Bank and Gaza, without negotiations, under the new U.S. peace proposals,” the official said. If Hussein were sincere, moreover, these officials added, he would join the Camp David process.

The officials strenuously denied that Hussein’s statements had embarrassed the Israel government which last Sunday pronounced the Jordanian option “dead” in the wake of the Fez Arab summit.

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