Jordan canceled a $1.3-billion development plan in the Israeli-occupied lands today as part of what officials called a move to give the PLO responsibility for the 1.5 million Palestinians living there.
The move followed reports in regional newspapers that King Hussein was dissociating himself from the Palestinian question.
Jordan state radio said the announcement was made after a Cabinet meeting led by Prime Minister Zaid Rifai. The radio said Jordan would continue its "national role as a confrontation state and a prime party in the Arab-Israeli conflict."
A rebellion among the Palestinians living in the occupied territories began Dec. 8 and has come largely under PLO direction. Four Israelis and more than 230 Palestinians have been killed.
A senior Jordanian official confirmed reports in the Arab press that Hussein is making broad changes in Jordan's relationship with the Palestinians, but the radio quoted Rifai as saying the new measures "will not harm the national unity among Palestinians and Jordanians in the kingdom."
Plan Established in 1986
The five-year West Bank development plan was established in 1986, by agreement with the Palestine Liberation Organization, to finance health, education, housing, and cultural and Islamic affairs projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
A senior Jordanian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said of today's action:
"This is part of King Hussein's decision to free himself from representation of the Palestinian people and leaves the doors open for the PLO to shoulder responsibility on its own. The king's decision also reflects the PLO's wish to take over all Palestinian affairs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip."