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Options for Jordan, Israel

September 10, 1988

While attacking my Op-Ed article of Aug. 16, "Arab World Never Let Jordanian Option Exist," Zaid Al-Rifai, the Prime Minister of Jordan (Letters, Aug. 26) confirms main point: that a a partition of the West Bank between Jordan and Israel ("The Jordanian Option") has never been possible because King Hussein must demand complete Israeli withdrawal from the territories he lost in 1967. Al-Rifai repeats this demand in his letter.

Al-Rifai's own interior minister, Rajaa Al-Dajani, confirmed the second point of my article: that even if Israel ceded all the territories to Hussein, he would serve only as a middleman. In an interview with Al Watan of Kuwait of Aug. 28 Al-Dajani stated: "There was never a Jordanian option. The option has always been Palestinian . . . Jordan's role was never central but one of assistance. Jordan has no claim on the West Bank. The purpose is to return the territories to Arab domain. Who will then rule them is an (Arab) family affair."

Al-Rifai alleges that to enhance my thesis I fabricated a British ambassador's report about King Hussein's saying "good riddance" after losing the West Bank in 1967. The report exists and will be available for perusal in 1997, when the 30-year British embargo expires. I hope that by then the present de facto peace between Jordan and Israel will be replaced by a peace treaty, so that Israelis, who now cannot set foot in Jordan, can visit there the way Jordanians can now visit Israel. It is ever so much easier to settle disputes in open, face-to-face discussions than on the pages of the Los Angeles Times.

DAVID BAR-ILLAN

Jerusalem

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