Israel Will Foil Arab Blocking of Jordan Water Plan, Eshkol Says

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol warned today that “Israel will foil any attempt to interfere with its right to draw water” from the Jordan River in accordance with the plan developed several years ago by the late Eric Johnston, special U.S. Ambassador, who negotiated a regional water project with Israel and the Arab countries.

The Premier stated the warning in a special interview with the daily Yediot Achronot. He said that Israel hoped that the 13 Arab rulers attending a summit conference in Cairo to act on a counter-measure to Israel’s irrigation plan would use logic and not “adopt adventurous resolutions.”

He recalled that the Johnston plan for water distribution between Israel and the Arab neighboring countries was reached through negotiations with all concerned, the United States having been the initiator.

He noted also that the United States had granted large sums to Jordan to carry out its water plan, based on diversion of the Yarmuk, a Jordan River tributary, which he said was already well advanced and a large portion of the tributary’s water already diverted from Israel. He added that when Jordan completed its plan, all of the Yarmuk River water would be diverted.

The Premier stated that Syria also was using the Jordan River to irrigate areas on the eastern bank of the River. Asked what Israel would do if the Arabs tried to interfere with the Israeli irrigation plan, the Premier reiterated that Israel will foil any such attempt. “However, we hope we shall not reach such a stage,” he added.

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