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King Hussein

August 26, 1988

I refer to the column written by David Bar-Illan ("Arab World Never Let 'Jordanian Option' Exist," Op-Ed Page, Aug. 16):

He attempted, but in vain, to exonerate Israel from any responsibility for the absence of peace in the Middle East. The requirements for peace are simple, namely Israeli withdrawal from the Arab and Palestinian occupied territories in return for peace. Israel adamantly refuses to withdraw, and tries to blame the Arabs for their refusal to negotiate peace on Israeli terms and conditions. What is lacking in our search for peace in the area is not the "Jordanian Option" or the "Palestinian Option" or the "Arab Option," but the "Israeli Option." Peace will only be won when the Israeli government agrees to exchange territory for peace.

Yet the reason for this letter is not to answer or refute the erroneous premises and conclusions of his column. I write you to express my utter dismay at the audacity of Mr. Bar-Illan, who invented and fabricated a story and attributed a direct quote to His Majesty King Hussein in an attempt to give some credibility to his article. The alleged story that the British ambassador in Jordan asked his majesty how he felt about losing the West Bank and East Jerusalem with its Moslem holy places, and that his majesty's reply was "good riddance" is simply a figment of Mr. Bar-Illan's imagination. Or maybe it is wishful thinking. In any event, the incident never took place. Mr. Bar-Illan should realize, more than anyone else, that the lowliest kind of terrorism is to try to assassinate truth.

ZAID AL-RIFAI

Prime Minister

Jordan

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