JERUSALEM (Jan. 14)
Israel was encouraged today by a broadcast in Arabic from Moscow cautioning the Arab leaders against turning the dispute over Israel’s Jordan River irrigation project into a bloody campaign.
The Soviet caution strengthened the belief here that a firm stand by the major powers–coupled with Israel’s deterrent power and the divisions within the Arab camp–was certain to prevent the 13 Arab rulers at the current Cairo summit conference from embarking on a military adventure in their opposition to the irrigation development project.
Official Israeli quarters here have so far refrained from commenting on proceedings at the Cairo summit meeting on grounds it was “too early” for such reaction. It was stressed here however, that the opening statements made yesterday by Arab leaders at the parley differed little from those of the past and that they were as venomous as ever, hardly creating an atmosphere for moderation.
Despite the encouraging prospects, Haaretz, the independent daily newspaper, said there was no room for complacency and for excluding even the extreme threat of an attack on Israel, if not in open war then by a terrorist campaign along the Israel-Arab borders.
The editorial also cited the danger of a concerted Arab diplomatic assault aimed at keeping the irrigation project from being implemented, and said Israel should launch a counter-offensive on the international scene to insure that, if the Arabs brought the issue before the United Nations, Israel would not suffer “a political debacle” there.
Haboker, Liberal Zionist newspaper, noted that attempts had already been made in various British and United States newspapers to claim that the Jordan River issue was an international rather than a domestic issue. The paper said that “against such a combined front, it is doubtful whether Israel can remain indifferent as it has been until now.” The Herut newspaper warned against “falling prey to the false moderation expressed by President Nasser of Egypt.”
The Kol Israel Broadcasting System quoted a United States Department of State spokesman as saying that, as far as the United States Government knew, the Israeli Jordan River water project was in conformity with the regional plan developed by the late Eric Johnston at the request of President Eisenhower.