JERUSALEM (Feb. 1)
Israel has definitely rejected the proposal by Ambassador Eric Johnston that it permit Lake Tiberias to be used as a storage reservoir for the waters of the Yarmuk River as part of a Jordan Valley scheme for the resettlement of Palestine Arab refugees, it was learned here today.
Meanwhile, it is known that the Israel Cabinet has been discussing the Johnston plan for regional development and that negotiations have been going on between President Eisenhower’s personal envoy and various members of the Cabinet. However, the progress of the negotiations has been shrouded in a news blackout.
Israel cannot relinquish any drop of water at this time because it is planning its agricultural development for the next 20 years, Peretz Naphtali, Israel Minister of Agriculture, told a meeting of the Commercial and Manufacturers Club in Tel Aviv. He was speaking on the plan for regional water development proposed by Ambassador Johnston.
In connection with Ambassador Johnston’s visit, the Mapam political committee has demanded that the government declare clearly that Israel’s sovereignty over its water resources is “irrefutable” and that no “foreign power can interfere or deprive” it of any drop of water needed for the country’s development.