NEW YORK (Jan. 21)
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive director of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, denied news reports Thursday that on a visit to Amman, Jordan last week he delivered to Jordanian officials “a proposal” from Israeli Premier Yitzhak Shamir.
In a telephone interview, Hoenlein said that he went on a private visit to Amman on Jan. 11, at the invitation of Roscoe Suddarth, the American ambassador to Jordan.
“It was a private trip,” he said. “I did not carry with me any proposals from Shamir.”
But Hoenlein did say that he met with the prime minister prior to his Amman visit and that during the 18 hours he spent in Amman, he met with top Jordanian officials, including Minister of the Royal Court Adnan Abu Odeh.
The Israeli afternoon daily Maariv reported Thursday that Hoenlein conveyed a verbal message to the Jordanians and told them that American Jewry will stand behind Jordan and assist it in mustering American support for its requests if Amman softens its stands on the peace process and agrees to conduct direct negotiations with Israel.
“This is not correct,” Hoenlein said. “Because I went on a private visit, I did not represent American Jewry.”
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Hoenlein also disputed Maariv’s report that he was accompanied to Amman by Max Green, President Reagan’s adviser for Jewish affairs. He said Green’s visit was not connected to his.
Hoenlein said that upon his return to Israel from Jordan, he met with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres; Yosef Ben Aharon, director general of the Prime Minister’s Office; and other Israeli officials, and briefed them about his meeting in the Jordanian capital.
In Jerusalem, Ben-Aharon said Wednesday night that Hoenlein did not travel to Jordan as an envoy of Israel.
Hoenlein said that he went to Israel two weeks ago to prepare for the upcoming meeting of the Presidents Conference in Jerusalem at the end of February.
Hoenlein’s visit was the first of two missions to Amman made by American Jewish figures this month.
A delegation of the American Jewish Congress met with Jordanian leaders in Amman on Wednesday and Thursday, as part of a mission aimed at promoting peace in the Middle East.
The group spent Monday and Tuesday meeting with Egyptian officials in Cairo, and was scheduled to arrive in Israel on Friday for meetings throughout the weekend with Israeli officials.
The delegation is headed by Theodore Mann, AJCongress national president, and Henry Siegman, the group’s executive director.
A similar mission was organized in 1985 and included stops in Egypt, Jordan and Israel.
(Tel Aviv correspondent Hugh Orgel contributed to this report.)