LONDON (Dec. 14)
The United Arab Republic would intervene militarily “on the very day that the Israelis begin to put into effect their plan to divert the flow of the Jordan River,” Major Salah Salem, Egypt’s chief propagandist, declared today in an article in the Cairo newspaper A1 Gumhouria, of which he is editor.
The First Egyptian Army, he revealed, had already been put on the alert on the Negev frontier and, should the Israelis begin the Jordan diversion scheme, this army would engage, he asserted, “in large-scale operations” with the support of the Second Syrian Army.
The Egyptian editor called the Israeli water plan a “matter of life and death to the Arabs.” If the Negev were rendered fertile, he warned, it could receive 2,000,000 more Jewish immigrants who would form a wedge between Egypt and the rest of the Arab world.
A London Daily Express correspondent who has just returned from Cairo said today that President Nasser of the United Arab Republic “is determined to risk war rather than let the Israelis carry through their plan” to take water from the Jordan River to irrigate arid areas of the Negev. He said that Nasser believed that “if there is war again with Israel, the Egyptians will win. He counts on the support of Arabs in other countries.”
Reports received here indicated that the Egyptians had dropped widely advertised plans to divert the waters of the Jordan before they reached Israeli territory by construction of a dam in Arab territory. A technical committee had reported to the UAR cabinet on this plan and had recommended it. The cabinet, however, was reported at its meeting yesterday to have discussed military and diplomatic means of blocking the Israelis.