Hussein, King of Jordan

(King Hussein, Hussein Ibn Talal)
(1935-99)
   Born in Amman, Jordan, on 14 November 1935, he witnessed the assassination of his grandfather, King Abdullah I, at Jerusalem's Al-Aksa Mosque on 21 July 1951. His father, Talal, ruled Jordan for only a brief period due to mental illness before Hussein was proclaimed monarch on 11 August 1952. He continued to rule until his death. On the eve of the Six-Day War (1967), Hussein rejected an Israeli offer to maintain the status quo in Jerusalem and the West Bank if Jordan agreed not to join the Arab military alliance confronting Israel. During the war, Jordan lost control over these territories, although Israel permitted a degree of Jordanian influence to remain.
   In many years of secret contacts with Israelis, Hussein always reflected a pragmatism that contributed to the popularity of the notion of the "Jordan Option," especially among elements of the Israel Labor Party. Although he formally renounced Jordanian claims to the West Bank on 31 July 1988, Hussein remained actively engaged in diplomatic consultations about its final disposition and that of Jerusalem's old city. On 14 September 1993, Israel and Jordan initialed a common agenda for future negotiations; the issuing of the Washington Declaration on 25 July 1994 marked the completion of this agenda. Hussein described the signing of the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty on 26 October 1994 and the warm personal relationship that he cultivated with Israel's Yitzhak Rabin as highlights of his personal life. Hussein offered a moving tribute to Rabin at the latter's November 1995 funeral. He took the remarkable step of making personal condolence calls on the families of Israeli school girls killed by a deranged Jordanian soldier in March 1997. Hussein interrupted his treatment for cancer to participate in the crucial final stages of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that culminated with the Wye River Memorandum of 23 October 1998. He died on 7 February 1999 and was succeeded by his eldest son, King Abdullah II, who continued his father's pragmatic approach toward relations with Israel.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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