WASHINGTON (Jan. 20)
It is part of United States policy in the Middle East to “insure the security and integrity of the individual states of the area–including Israel. This was made clear tonight by Deputy Under Secretary of State Alexis Johnson, in a speech before a conference of the citizens Committee on American Policy in the Near East–a pro-Arab group of Americans, many of whom are also active in the anti-Israel “Friends of the Middle East.”
Though Israel’s Jordan irrigation project was among the main topics discussed at the conference. Mr. Johnson abstained from mentioning this subject altogether, His speech was awaited with considerable interest, since it was the first major address the Middle East since Lyndon Johnson became President.
Ambassadors of Arab countries attended the conference and heard the State Department official warn that the desire of the United States to avoid taking sides in regional disputes “does not mean that we will stand idly by if aggression is committed.”
The conference, attended by about 30 Americans, adopted a resolution calling on the U.S. Government “to seek the postponement of the diversion (of Jordan waters), pending the establishment of more favorable conditions.” However, even this group admitted in its concluding statement “that the Israelis need the waters for the Negev if there is ever to be a settlement and development there. no one can doubt.”
Alexis Johnson, in his speech, listed “accommodation between Israel and its Arab neighbors” as one of the objectives of American policy in the Middle East. “We believe this is the only way in which the area as a whole can develop political stability, self sustained economic growth and, thus, true independence,” he said. Jordanian Ambassador Saad Juma, who also addressed the conference, claimed that the implementation of Israel’s irrigation project would result in the displacement of 30, 000 Arab farmers.