LONDON (Oct. 29)
A threat to use military force to prevent Israel from diverting Jordan River waters was made by the governments of Iraq and Syria today, according to reports from Beirut.
The governments were reported as having agreed that the Jordan River irrigation projects were “a serious threat” to the Arabs and must be countered, “if need be,” by action of the combined Arab armies. Syria and Iraq announced a joint military command earlier this month.
Observers here said that the latest Syrian-Iraqi statement on the irrigation projects marked the start of a period of heightening tension between the Arab countries and Israel over use of Jordan River water. Israeli officials said recently that the proposed water diversion for a vast Negev irrigation project was a matter of life or death for Israel. It was estimated here that Israel has spent nearly $84,000,000 on the irrigation project.
Unconfirmed reports also were received here that Iraqi forces, including air units, were moving into position beside Syrian troops on the Syrian-Israel frontier.