JERUSALEM (Oct. 10)
Official Israeli sources declared today that the Jordan River irrigation project for the Negev is “a matter of life or death” for Israel. They made the statement following reports that the new Iraq-Syria military merger has, as one of its goals, the prevention of that project.
Reports from Damascus quoted Syrian Information Minister Sami Al Jundi as saying yesterday that the main duty of the Supreme Defense Council of the merged military forces would be to seek to counteract the Jordan River project. He also described the merger as “a defense necessity” for maintenance of peace in the Middle East, and said it would be followed by complete political union.
Reports from Egypt quoted Cairo newspapers as denouncing the Syrian-Iraq union as “cheap Baathist propaganda”–a reference to the Socialist-oriented Baath party which fought off attempts by Egypt toward an Egyptian-Syrian-Iraq union under control of Egyptian President Nasser.
Al Ghoumhouria, the Cairo newspaper which reflects Nasser’s opinion, charged that the Syrian-Iraq union “is not aimed at the Zionist enemy but at the enemy of Zionism,” Egypt. Al Akhbar, another Cairo newspaper, asserted that the union “is good news for Israel and bad news for the Arabs.”