Hussein’s Visit to U.S. Reveals Division Among Arabs on the Nature of a Middle East Peace Settlement
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Hussein’s Visit to U.S. Reveals Division Among Arabs on the Nature of a Middle East Peace Settlement

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The three-day visit to Washington by King Hussein of Jordan which ended yesterday has revealed deep divisions among Arab leaders on the nature of a Middle East peace settlement, especially a solution of the Palestinian question. Consequently, President Carter appears to be uncertain now as to whether it would be fruitful, or wise, to reconvene the Geneva conference this year.

Before leaving for New York and later visits to Houston and Atlanta, Hussein made it clear that he is not in agreement with President Anwar Sadat of Egypt on a Palestinian state or with the Palestine Liberation Organization. According to Hussein, it is up to “the Palestinians,” who include people living in Jordan, to decide by plebiscite what they want to do with their future. That statement by the Jordanian monarch raised the long obscured fact that the PLO is not synonymous with the Palestinian people and is not their spokesman.

His remarks were made at a $40-a-plate luncheon at the Mayflower Hotel yesterday, sponsored by the Arab-American Association for Commerce and Industry and the Middle East Institute. Stripped of its pro-formal attacks on Israel for not being “ready for the obligations for peace,” Hussein’s main point was clear: he does not agree with Sadat that a Palestinian state is a prerequisite for Middle East peace.


Hussein’s speech had a sobering effect. He indicated that he is not “the client” of American big business interests that were tendering the luncheon and were, presumably, anxious to hear him agree with Sadat. According to one analyst, the King’s message was “I am not about to be used anywhere. I am the man who says peace is not possible at this time.”

The sponsorship of the luncheon was revealing. The Middle East Institute is a private organization formed in 1946 for the stated purpose of bringing Arabs and Americans closer culturally and economically. Its membership of about 2000 includes 40 corporations, mainly oil companies, that contribute corporate dues of $1000 or more annually. The Institute’s president is L. Dean Brown, a former U.S. diplomat who served briefly as a special envoy to Lebanon last year.

The Arab American Association for Commerce and Industry comprises about 300 corporations doing business in the Middle East. At the luncheon, 34 corporations sponsored tables of 10 guests each. They included Esso, Gulf, Mobil, Caltex, Chevron and American Oil companies, Boeing, Litton Industries, Northrup, Rockwell and Bell helicopter and arms manufacturers, Ford, General Motors, Caterpillar Tractor, the Chase Manhattan Bank and others.

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