Israel Not Consulted by U.S. on Jordan River Water Plan

The Israel Office of Information issued a statement today in which it said that the regional water scheme worked out by the U.S. for the Jordan River by the TVA “has never been seen by the government of Israel and cannot therefore have been either accepted or rejected.”

The statement goes on to say that for over a year Israel had attempted in vain it bring about discussions with the United States Government “with a view to regional cooperation on water projects.”

“Assistant Secretary of State Henry A. Byroade,” the statement continues, “informed Ambassador Eban of the existence of a desk study several weeks ago, but the document was withheld from Israel’s knowledge until Monday evening, October 18th, ” (that was the day on which the TVA project was announced to the press at the United Nations).

The Israel statement emphasizes that “there is nothing which may properly be called a United Nations-Jordan water scheme since no principal organ of the United Nations has ever considered such a scheme, nor does the United Nations deal with the authorization or disqualification of water development projects within sovereign states.”

Having now obtained a copy of the report, the Israel Government will consider it on its merit, the statement says. “Israel’s policy, as explained to Secretary Dulles in Ambassador Eban’s memorandum of July 9, 1953, is to seek inter-state agreements on irrigation and power by direct consultation with the neighboring Arab states,” it points out.

“The U.S. Government has been cordially invited by the Israel Government to promote such contacts with neighboring governments but has apparently not been successful. Therefore, the governments of Israel, Syria and Jordan are preparing their own schemes for the utilization of their respective waters,” the statement explains.

“The canal project now being undertaken by Israel at Bnot-Yaacov has not caused the diversion of any water at all,” it continues. “General Bennike’s recommendation to avoid water diversion at this time is under consideration by the United Nations. Israel has an undoubted right to appeal to the Security Council on a matter involving interpretation of an armistice agreement which it has signed. In the meantime, no water diversion is taking place. Therefore, any suggestion that Israel is ‘defying’ the U.N. would not be either legally or factually accurate.

“It would be unfortunate if any governments called upon to consider this intricate and important matter did not enter the investigation with a completely open mind. It will be recalled that in a previous dispute in 1951 whether the drainage of the Huleh marshes was consistent with the armistice agreements – Israel’s position was first heavily challenged, but was subsequently fully vindicated,” the statement concludes.

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