A serene Hussein holds out for overall Mideast peace
Washington — King Hussein of Jordan is concluding his US visit this weekend in substantial agreement with President Carter that a Palestinian settlement is critical to Middle East peace, but with no agreement on how to reach it.
Before flying to the European economic summit in Venice June 19, President Carter reaffirmed that the United States plans to pursue the Camp David process with Egypt and Israel toward a Palestinian settlement.
King Hussein, however, called on Americans and the US government to begin working "immediately . . . for a comprehensive settlement, because it is the only enduring one."
The King did not directly endorse the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) demand for an independent Palestinian state, but did call for Palestinian "national independence," "self-determination," and the right of dispersed Palestinians "to unite with those under occupation to rebuild a free homeland."
"We have warned against partial and separate settlements," King Hussein said in an address to the National Press Club here June 19. Speaking in quiet, measured tones, he said, "We have worked for comprehensive settlement, for it is the only enduring one.
"The Arab-Israeli conflict is a major confrontation which must be addressed totally and from the roots," he continued.
"Israel's withdrawal from the territories occupied in June 1967 cannot be separated from the exercise by the Palestinian people of the right of self-determination and national freedom."
Egypt's recovery of occupied Sinai, King Hussein continued, still leaves Syrian territory, the West Bank, and Gaza occupied, and "Arab [East] Jerusalem occupied and, according to Israel, officially annexed."
The King recalled his close relations with the US but said he shared the concern of other Arabs and those Americans who understand the Mideast on how to "bridge the differences between the US and the Arab world." He said he shared the Arab belief that Israel is an expansionist state because of Jordan's own experiences and "the agonies of the Palestinians." He also recognized the "danger of major confrontation in our region."
More "honest and frank communication" between the US and the Arabs could avoid confrontation and channel the process "into constructive cooperation" so that "peace can prevail" in the Middle East, he said.
He asserted that Arab are "perplexed" when they see American "blindness" to "repression" of the rights of "1 million Palestinians living under occupation and their displaced brethren" who should have "self-determination and national independence."
Jordan's peace efforts and its cooperation with "four US presidents" during "a dozen visits" here by the King would continue, he said. He also affirmed that Jordan would continue working with a "consensus" of Arab states, reached at conferences in Baghdad, Iraq, in 1978 and Tunis and 1979 to pursue "the Arab concept of a just peace and to open avenues for it."
King Hussein serenely turned aside questions inviting him to be critical of President Carter, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, and Egyptian President Sadat. But he rejected Mr. Sadat's charges that he was an "opportunist" who sought financial gain from Arab subsidies for not supporting the Camp David accords.
One US policymaker explained that King Hussein and other Middle Eastern statesmen "look at the problems in terms of predetermining final objectives." Here in Washington, we tend to concentrate on concrete steps to get there, whereas principle is stressed in the Mideast."
"In a late development June 19, US officials said President Carter had decided to sell Jordan 200 advanced US-built M-60A3 tanks equipped with night vision sights. The deal, reversing an earliest decision, is worth $320 million.)