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$150,000,000 Plan for Irrigation and Electrification of Palestine Announced in New York

May 21, 1944
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Plans for a large scale irrigation and hydro-electric development, transforming Palestine’s agricultural and industrial economy, are in preparation by American scientists and engineers, it was announced here today by the Commission on Palestine Surveys.

The project, initiated more than a year ago, compares in magnitude with the Grand Coulee, or Boulder Dam developments and would require a capital investment of between $150,000,000 and $200,000,000 over a period of years. The plan calls for diversion of existing waters and the building of a net-work of artificial streams, which would irrigate arid and semi-arid regions with an area of 600,000 a?res, and for the erection of power plants with an installed capacity of approximately 250,000 ?ilowatts, generating in excess of 1,000,000,000 KW of electric current per year.

It is estimated that the development of cheap power and the transition from extensive dry farming to intensive irrigation farming would make it possible to double the present farm population in Palestine and double or treble the present total population of 1,500,000.


The engineering surveys and related studies were begun by the Commission at the request of Dr. Chaim Weizmann, president of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, following the submission of proposals by Walter C. Lowdermilk, reclamation expert and assistant ?hief of the United States Soil Conservation Service, in a memorandum entitled “The Jordan Valley Authority. ” The Lowdermilk proposals were reviewed by the late Colonel Theodore B. Parker, formerly chief engineer of the Tennessee Valley Authority, and more recently head of the Department of Civil Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A major feature of the over-all plan takes into account the unusual topography of the country and the great difference in levels between the surface of the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea, which is the lowest body of water in the world, about 1300 feet felow sea level. In addition to a “Maditerranean Diversion Plan,” the power projects under study include possibilities such as the continuous and rapid drop of the Jordan River from the headwaters of the Jordan clear down to the south.

So far as irrigation possibilities are concerned, hydrologists have estimated that ultimately 750,000 acres of land may be irrigated, as against 95,000 acres now under irrigation. The present studies already point to possibilities for irrigating at least 600,000 additional acres and possibly more at costs which would compare favorably with irrigation works in parts of the United States.


The Commission has enlisted the cooperation of 21 experts including civil engineers, reclamation and irrigation experts, geologists, hydrologists, soil experts and agronomists, chemists, industrial engineers, economists and one archaeologist. A number of these experts have been to Palestine and carried on investigations in their respective fields, while others worked from a mass of data compiled by the engineering and research staff of the Commission. The lay members of the Commission are Dr. Nahum Goldmann, Abracham Goodman, Andre Meier, Emanuel Neumann, Judge Morris Rothenberg, Alexander Sachs, Israel Sieff and Robert Szold.

Terming the project “an all-American plan,” Mr. Neumann, who directs the work of the Commission on Palestine Surveys, said that “if the plan is ever carried out in Palestine, it will be a lasting monument to the American spirit,” To questions as to where the money for the execution of the project will come from, Mr. Neumann replied.

“The financing of such a project over a period of years would require the cooperation of a) the Palestine Government; b) Jewish organizations; c) private capital and d) credits based upon looted Jewish property in Europe, the owners of which have been first robbed and then “liquidated” by the Nazis — loot for which Germany must make some restitution.

“This is a multiple-purpose project in a higher sense of the term, 1) It will make room for large numbers of Jewish settlers, 2) It will raise the level and living standards of the Palestine Arabs; 3) It will serve as a model and ferment for the whole Near East.”

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