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Johnston and Sharett Confer on U.S. Plan for Regional Development

Ambassador Eric Johnston met today with Premier Moshe Sharett to discuss the American plan for regional development of the Jordan Valley and was told by Mr. Sharett that Israel welcomes international cooperation on water problems but will not accept a “political” proposal in place of a sound economic project.

The Premier underlined that any project for regional water development must include the resources of the Litani Rivers which flow from Lebanon. Not to include the waters of the Litani, three-quarters of which now go to waste into the Mediterranean Sea, would be to fashion a political rather than an economic project. The American plan does not include the waters of the Litani because Lebanon will not agree.

After meeting with Mr. Sharett, Ambassador Johnston conferred with a committee of Cabinet Ministers including: Levi Eshkol, Finance Minister; Peretz Naftali, Agriculture Minister, and Dr. Peretz Bernstein, Minister of Trade and Industry. At a subsequent meeting of Israel experts and Mr. Johnston, President Eisenhower’s personal envoy reportedly attempted to get Israel agreement to a partial scheme–exploitation of the Yarmuk River for the settlement of several hundred thousand Arab refugees in the Jordan Valley.

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