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Jordan Cabinet Split on Policy Towards Terrorists; Heavy Opposition to Hussein

February 21, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Jordanian Parliament met in closed session for three hours tonight in Amman and expressed loyalty to King Hussein. But speculation was still rife here as to whether Hussein’s Government would survive much longer in view of a major split in the Cabinet over the King’s announced policy of halting Arab terrorist raids against Israel from Jordanian territory.

The split was revealed this morning when Prime Minister Bahjat Al Talhouni denied in an Amman radio address that the Cabinet had reached any decision to act against terrorists using Jordan as their base. His denial was a direct contradiction of a statement made only yesterday by Minister of Interior Hassan Al-Kayed who warned terrorists that they would be punished if they ignored the King’s orders. King Hussein declared Friday that he would “not allow anyone to supply the enemy with pretexts and justifications for aggression.”

(The London Times reported in a dispatch from Amman today that Prime Minister Al Talhouni declared that “the Jordan Government, like other Arab governments, does not oppose the activities of persons working for the interests of general Arab policy and in line with it.”)

Commenting on the Jordanian Prime Minister’s statement, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said here this afternoon that if Jordan fails to prevent armed bands from using its territory. tensions would continue to rise affecting the well-being and security of peaceful inhabitants on both sides of the demarcation line.

The apparent Cabinet split in Amman coincided with an announcement issued by the Syrian-trained El Fatah terrorist organization in Beirut, Lebanon, this morning declaring that they will not “bow to Hussein’s demands” and would continue their guerrilla operations against Israel.

Dispatches from Amman and eye-witness accounts of travellers arriving in Jerusalem from Jordan yesterday indicated that the population strongly supported King Hussein’s anti-terrorist policy and in fact demonstrated against “foreign elements” who were “unconcerned with the problems of the Jordanian people,” Jordanian newspapers headlined the seizure yesterday of a terrorist arms cache at the port of Aqaba and all indications were that Jordanian security forces were rounding up terrorist groups.

(This picture of anti -terrorist sentiment and activity was contradicted by the London Times’ Amman correspondent. In a dispatch this morning, he said that King Hussein and members of Parliament visiting villages and refugee camps devastated in last Thursday’s fighting with Israel, were greeted by demands for arms. The correspondent said that when he toured the front line areas he found most Jordanians in possession of “rifles and a few rounds of ammunition.”)

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