WASHINGTON (Jul. 11)
Eric Johnston, President Eisenhower’s special envoy to the Middle East, received today last minute instructions on the Israel-Arab water development plan from Secretary of State John Foster Dulles.
Mr. Johnston is scheduled to leave for the Middle East on July 28. He will visit all the Arab states and Israel. He refused to elaborate on the details of his trip. This is his fifth visit to the Middle East in the capacity of special negotiator between the Israelis and the Arabs on the American plan to develop the waters of the Jordan River for the benefit of the countries involved.
An official of the International Cooperation Administration repeated the position of the Eisenhower Administration that the Johnston Plan for Jordan River water utilization is a key to settlement of the Arab-Israel dispute, it was revealed here today when his testimony on the Mutual Security appropriation bill was released.
Cedric H. Seager, Regional Director for Near East and African Operations, testified that during the past year the United States has maintained a sustained drive “to obtain an understanding for the division of the waters of the Jordan by the countries concerned on an agreed basis for their storage, their control along economic lines, and for arrangements to insure their equitable distribution.”
Mr. Seager asserted that the conclusion of an agreement on the Jordan waters “will offer considerable prospect for the rehabilitation of refugee populations, and it would open up new areas for settlement in Jordan.” In his testimony before the House Appropriations Committee Mr. Seager observed that the animosity between the Arab states and Israel has not yet abated. He explained that U.S. policy has been “to keep secret” the aid allocated to individual countries, “thus providing the United States Government the maximum amount of flexibility in the actual implementation of the program.”
The ICA official testified that the economic situation in Israel “is much improved.” He observed that German reparations are providing funds for part of Israel’s economic development program, but that “United States aid is still required” to maintain this development effort.