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U.S. Stresses Benefits for Israel and Arabs from Johnston Plan

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With the anticipated departure of Ambassador Eric Johnston for Israel and the Arab countries to resume his negotiations on the projected regional water development plan, the Foreign Operations Administration emphasized today that the United States Government is especially interested in this plan because it may help in the resettlement of Arab refugees from Palestine and ease the conflict between Israel and the Arab countries.

In a summary statement on the 1956 fiscal year, the FOA says that “nearly 70,000 of Arab refugees now in the Gaza area of Egypt may be rehabilitated by developing, through supplies of water drawn from the River Nile, the agricultural potential of an area East of the Suez Canal” The statement emphasized that “of special interest to the U.S. is the yet unsettled conflict over Palestine and the resettlement of Arab refugees,” and added. “One possible key to the solution of the problem is the development of the Jordan River.”

The FOA statement stressed the fact that “special efforts” have been made by the United States during the past year to obtain, among Israel and the Arab countries concerned, an agreed basis for dividing the waters of the Jordan, for its storage and control along economic lines, and for arrangements to assure that deliveries of the water continue to be made pursuant to agreement. “Such arrangements, “said the FOA, “would enable the Government of Israel to proceed with ambitious plans for the use of a share of the water and thus enable the Israelis to become more self-sufficient. It holds out the best prospect for economic development, important to the Kingdom of Jordan as a whole, and for substantial improvement in the lot of the Arab refugees.”

United States aid to Israel, the FOA said, “has helped that government assimilate its large numbers of immigrants while helping to improve its foreign exchange position, already markedly better. Industrial and agricultural production have increased; land area under cultivation has been tripled.”

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