King Hussein died on February 7, 1999

On February 7th, 1999, Jordan’s King Hussein, who was the second Arab leader to formalize peaceful relations with Israel, passed away of natural causes. Hussein ascended to Jordan’s throne in 1953 as a young 18-year-old boy, following the political assassination of his grandfather King Abdullah.  

His father, the rightful Hashemite for the thrown, was unable to become king due to mental illness.  As King, Hussein maintained a complex relationship with Israel, formally despising the Jewish state, but all while maintaining secret talks with Israeli leaders such as Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, and Shimon Peres as early as the early 60s.

Hussein was keen on renewing friendly relations his grandfather Abdullah maintained before the establishment of Israel, during the 1930s. Zionist leaders and Abdullah in those days, had a common enemy,  the radicalization of nationalism, specifically Palestinian nationalism by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husayni, who was appointed by the British.  

In the days leading up to the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel had begged the King to keep the Hashemite Kingdom out of the war,  in return for a promise that they would not attack Jordan. The young King, however, fearing being a political outcast in the Arab world, gave control of his army to the Egyptian tyrant, Gamal Abdel Nasser.

According to the former Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, during the Six-Day War even after the fighting began, Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol sent King Hussein a letter imploring him to seize the Egyptian control of his army, and in return, Israel would take no actions against him. Jordan, however, received false intelligence information about early Arab victories in Judea and Samaria and sent troops into Jerusalem instead. “The Jordanian forces might have fared better, if not for the Israeli discovery of a major Jordanian intelligence blunder. Indeed, Jordanian radio broadcasted the country's military plans roughly an hour ahead of the actual deployment.” 

After Israel and the PLO agreed to the Oslo Accords in 1993 in which Palestinian leaders recognized Israeli sovereignty, King Hussein understood that the PLO’s recognition of Israel would make it easier for Jordan to do so as well; leading to the famous long overdue 1994 peace agreement.

His funeral was attended by then Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanyahu, along with many other Israeli dignitaries who had worked with the King over the years. The Jordanian televised announcement said the following upon his death: "With complete faith in Allah, may he be blessed and exalted, and the obedience he imposes on us to his will be exalted, with the sadness of believers, the government sadly informs the dear Jordanian people, the brothers of the honorable Arab nation in all its countries, the brothers in the great Muslim world and friends everywhere, of the death of the highest of men, the greatest of men, His Majesty, King Hussein Bin Talal the Magnificent, King of the Hashemite Jordanian Kingdom, Elder of the Prophet's Family."

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