by Hillel Fendel
Hussein, Arafat in the 70s
Secret documents released only now by the National Archives of the United Kingdom show that King Hussein and other top Jordanian officials made the offer to Arafat in 1974. Nothing ever came of the offer.
Arafat, who was at the height of his leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) at the time, was actively involved in trying to declare a Palestinian state, with the support of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Jordan, however, was opposed, though it could not express it freely. Instead, its leaders wanted to include Judea and Samaria in their country, formalizing the [.]
Just three years earlier, thousands of Jordanians and PLO supporters were killed in hostilities between the Jordanian Army and the PLO, culminating in the month known as Black September. In July 1971, the PLO was expelled from Jordan to Lebanon. Even today, the ruling Hashemite Kingdom continues to be wary of the 40% of the population claiming Palestinian origins.
The newly-released documents, which were forbidden for publication for 30 years, indicate that the Jordanian leaders attempted to convince Arafat not to declare an independent Palestinian state. The Jordanians told Arafat that this would pave the way for Israel to continue to control Judea and Samaria. The documents further indicate that the British were anxious to see whether Arafat would in fact declare a state, and what reactions there might be in Jordan and other Arab countries.
In addition, the documents show that wealthy Arab businessmen in Judea and Samaria were also not in favor of an independent state. Instead, they supported an alliance with Jordan, with which they had strong business ties.