King Hussein was born in Amman in 1935 and was the eldest son of Prince Talal Bin Abdullah. He joined the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, one of the most important British Army officer training centers in England at that time, before he was crowned King of Jordan on May 2, 1953. His grandfather, King Abdullah, was shot dead by Mostafa Shoukri Ashi in 1951 while performing Friday prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. He was reportedly killed for conspiring with the United Kingdom to leave Palestine for the Jews in exchange for empowering him in the Badiyat al-Sham area, east of Jordan River, to build an emirate and then a kingdom for himself and his sons after him. After this incident, his eldest son Talal succeeded him and was heir apparent to the throne. In a year, Parliament forced Prince Talal to step down on account of his illness and his 17-year-old son, Hussein, was proclaimed King of Jordan in 1952. A Regency Council was appointed until he came of age. He was officially enthroned one year later on May 2, 1953.
Many important events marked the reign of King Hussein. In 1957, the young King purged the army of foreign members and dismissed Sir John Bagot Glubb, the then commander of the Jordanian Army thus announcing the end of the British Mandate over Jordan according to the Anglo-Jordanian Treaty of 1948. The second landmark during his time in power was the Six-Day War of June 1967 when Israel initiated war against Egypt, Syria and Jordan that resulted in the Israelis seizing the Egyptian Sinai, the Syrian Golan Heights and the West Bank of the Jordanian River including Jerusalem. Thousands of Palestinians flocked to Jordan after the defeat. The Six-Day War was followed by the Black September events of 1970, a conflict that arose when the Hashemite rule viewed that some of the Palestinian groups who had taken Jordan as a military base and a venue for their administrative, political and media bureaus were becoming a threat to the kingdom. A state of emergency was declared and the Jordanian Army acted on the instructions of King Hussein Bin Talal and his military advisors to put an end to the presence of Palestinian organizations in Jordan. Subsequently, the armed Palestinian resistance moved from Jordan to Lebanon.
King Hussein’s 1972 plan of establishing a United Arab Kingdom instead of the Jordanian Hashemite Kingdom was greeted with staunch rejection by the Palestine Liberation Organization. The United Arab Kingdom was to consist of two federal districts – Palestine, which would include the West Bank region and the liberated Palestinian areas whose residents wished to join the proposed federation and Jordan, which would include the East Bank region. Amman was to be the central capital of the Kingdom and Jerusalem the capital of Palestine. The king would be the Head of State and executive power in each federation would be vested in a general governor chosen from the federation’s residents. The PLO slammed the plan as being a conspiracy aiming to abort the Palestinian cause and tension marked the relationship between the two parties.
King Hussein’s term also saw the signing of a peace treaty between Israel and Jordan. Jordan’s participation in the Madrid conference of 1991 paved way for multilateral negotiations through which Jordan and Israel agreed to sign the Wadi Araba Peace Treaty on October 26, 1994. Thus, Jordan became the second Arab country to normalize its relations with Israel after Egypt.
Diagnosed with cancer in 1992, King Hussein started regular medical treatment in the United States. His condition worsened in 1999 and the King issued a decision which named his eldest son Abdullah his successor, replacing his brother Hassan as crown prince. He lost his battle to cancer on February 7, 1999 at the age of 64.