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Hussein Gives Assurance on Border in Confidential Message to Israel

November 19, 1990
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In a private message conveyed to Israel, King Hussein of Jordan has assured his neighbor that he has not changed his traditional policy of maintaining quiet on Jordan’s long border with Israel, according to a report in Hadashot.

At the same time, the election of a Moslem Brotherhood candidate to Jordan’s Parliament this weekend has Israeli analysts worried over the weakening of Hussein’s hold on his country.

In the confidential message, the king in effect begged Israel’s forbearance. The communication came in response to sharp warnings from Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Defense Minister Moshe Arens that Israel would not tolerate infiltrations from Jordan, which caused two Israel Defense Force fatalities on Nov. 8 and 13.

But while the king may be speaking in earnest, he seems to be losing power in his own kingdom.

Israeli circles were disturbed by the election of an anti-Israel extremist to the chairmanship of Jordan’s 80-member Parliament.

The vote over the weekend was 41-28 in favor of Abdel Latif Arabiat, candidate of the fundamentalist Moslem Brotherhood, against the king’s choice, former Interior Minister Suleiman Arar.

Another sign of the king’s waning influence is a report that Force 17, the military strike unit of the Palestine Liberation Organization, has resumed its activities inside Jordan.

Meanwhile, in his opening speech to Parliament in Amman on Saturday, Hussein found it necessary to rebuke the Western nations for their response to the Persian Gulf crisis.

The usually pro-Western Hussein called it hypocritical for nations to try to uphold international law in the Gulf region while ignoring the plight of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation.

There has been some tough talk in the Israeli government, particularly from the far right-wing Tehiya party, which suggested Sunday that the time has come for an offensive to restore peace along the border with Jordan.

Deputy Minister Geula Cohen has demanded a security zone inside Jordan similar to the one Israel maintains in southern Lebanon.

But the general mood here is more one of concern for the Jordanian ruler than anger.

Israeli policy-makers are convinced that Hussein would do everything in his power to preserve his relatively peaceful relations with Israel at a time when his own position is in jeopardy.

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