Israeli Leaders Have Often Met Secretly With Hussein
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) _ If reports are true that Prime Minister Shimon Peres met secretly with Jordan’s King Hussein this month, it would not be the first meeting between Hussein and Israeli leaders, according to newspaper accounts and Peres’ biographer.
At least eight previous secret meetings have been reported between the Jordanian monarch and Israeli leaders, including Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Rabin.
The session are said to have taken place in Tel Aviv, the Jordanian city of Aqaba, Paris and London from 1965 to 1977.
According to a report in the New York Times, Israeli political sources said Peres met with Hussein in Paris in mid-October before presenting his peace plan at the U.N. General Assembly on Oct. 21.
Opposition Parliament member Geula Cohen also referred to a secret Hussein- Peres meeting during a legislative debate Monday.
Peres dismissed it. But in a television interview Sunday night, he said: ″There is naturally part of the negotiations that consists of secret diplomacy. Whether this person met with that person, and so forth - perhaps not everything is published, nor should it be made public.″
On other occasions, he has hinted guardedly at a meeting with Hussein. Speaking last year of published reports that Labor Party leaders have met with the king several times since the 1967 Mideast war, Peres said simply: ″We conducted negotiations quietly, patiently and without declarations.″
Hussein’s first reported meeting with an Israeli leader came in 1965, when he met then-Foreign Minister Golda Meir in Paris, the Jerusalem Post reported in an April 1985 article.
During the meeting, Hussein sought Israel’s help to improve his image in Washington, the Post said.
After the 1967 Mideast War, most meetings involved discussions on a possible peace formula in the occupied West Bank which Israel captured from Jordan, according to the Post and other sources.
Matti Golan, Peres’ biographer, described a secret meeting between Peres and Hussein that he said took place in Tel Aviv on Aug. 29, 1974, when Peres was defense minister.
He wrote that Hussein and his advisers flew in a Jordanian military helicopter to a Jerusalem suburb, ″where an Israeli army helicopter was waiting to transfer them to a government guest house outside Tel Aviv.″
Several later meetings were held in Tel Aviv between Hussein and Israeli leaders to discuss sharing power in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, where 1.3 million Palestinians live, Golan wrote.
Golan, now managing editor of the respected Haaretz newspaper, did not give sources for his information, but he worked closely with Peres on the biography.
Israeli leaders and the Jordanian monarch occasionally have exchanged presents, the Post said, citing an Israeli-made Galil automatic rifle Rabin gave to Hussein, and a sword Hussein gave to Yigal Allon when Allon was foreign minister between 1974 and 1977.
Secret talks between Hussein and the Israelis ended with a meeting between the king and then-Foreign Minister Dayan on Aug. 22, 1977, three months after the right-wing Likud bloc won control of the government, the Post reported.
The new prime minister, Menachem Begin, opposed secret talks with Hussein, and canceled another meeting scheduled between Peres and Hussein for July 1978, Golan reported.