Eshkol Indicates Israel May Have to Fight for Jordan River Waters
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Eshkol Indicates Israel May Have to Fight for Jordan River Waters

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Premier Levi Eshkol, reviewing an infantry brigade, warned today that Israel might be faced with a serious a serious struggle possibly arising from “encroachment of our sovereignty” or efforts “endangering our water resources which give life to our land.” The Premier watched the exercises of the Golani brigade for an entire day. He expressed confidence that the heroic, though brief history of the brigade was an assurance of its efficiency for any emergency. The brigade was formed after Israel’s War of Independence.

Meanwhile, Israel warned Lebanon today that, by agreeing to act as “pawn” for Egypt in the project to divert the headwaters of the Jordan River, it may face “the dangers of punitive action by the injured party.” The warning was voiced by Shimon Peres, Israel’s Deputy Minister of Defense. He discussed the reports from Beirut that Lebanon has finally decided to build a pumping station at the source of the Wazzani Springs, diverting those waters into the Litani River, and thus reducing the flow of water into the Jordan River.

Lebanon’s relations with Israel have been relatively tranquil. The Wazzani diversion project, undertaken under Egyptian pressure, will put Lebanon in the position of “taking on the danger of becoming a party to a conflict not of its own choosing.” Mr. Peres said.

Stressing the fact that the Litani River waters flow wastefully into the Mediterranean Sea, Mr. Peres said: “This project, like other anti-Israel moves initiated by Nasser, is devoid of any economic sense whatsoever. “Lebanon, he said, “has no right to usurp waters that belong to Israel.” Dispatches from Beirut reported that Lebanon has asked its Parliament to grant the Government authority to request help from non-Lebanese Arab armies if the Wazzari project should result in war with Israel.

Meanwhile, today, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said Israel will reject “out of hand” a reported move by Jordan to request placement of the Israeli enclave atop Mount Scopus under the jurisdiction of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization. Under the 1949 armistice agreement between Israel and Jordan, Israel has full jurisdiction over the Mt. Scopus enclave, comprising the old campus of the Hebrew University and the pre-war Hadassah Hospital. Recently, Jordanian soldiers have fired on Israeli patrols inside the Scopus compound, wounding at least three Israelis in two separate attacks.

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