The late King Hussein of Jordan called for an Israeli air strike on Syrian troops supporting a 1970 Palestinian uprising against his rule, according to British documents declassified yesterday.
Cut off from direct contact with the United States and Israel during the two-week Black September uprising, King Hussein sent a plea for air support via the British Embassy in Amman, according to a summary of a Sept. 21, 1970, British cabinet meeting.
It was the only known instance of an Arab country requesting an Israeli military attack on a fellow Arab nation. The plea for Israeli help during the two-week uprising was reported at the time by Israeli and other regional radio stations, but Jordanian officials refused to confirm or deny the reports.
"A series of messages had been received from King Hussein of Jordan, reflecting the extreme anxiety with which he now regarded the situation," the British document said.
Stating the information "should on no account be disclosed," the summary said the King "not only appealed for the moral and diplomatic support of the United Kingdom and the United States, coupled with the threat of international action, but had also asked for an air strike by Israel against Syrian troops."
About 2,000 people died in 13 days of fighting during the Black September crisis, which was sparked by a series of airliner hijackings by Palestinian militants.
Palestinian forces, initially allowed by King Hussein to shelter in Jordan, began taking control of parts of the country. Jordanian forces attempted to expel the guerrillas, and Syria sent troops to support the rebels. AP