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Arab Conference Discusses Plan to Kill Israel’s Irrigation Project

February 16, 1960
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A tri-nation Arab plan to kill Israel’s projected use of Jordan River waters for irrigation purposes, by massive diversion of waters feeding into the Jordan, was discussed today at the Arab League Council of Foreign Ministers meeting being held currently in Cairo, according to reports received here.

Israel’s plan envisages piping 500, 000, 000 cubic meters of Jordan water annually from Galilee in the north to the arid areas of the Negev Desert in the south of Israel. The Arab plan, worked out by engineers from Lebanon, Jordan and the United Arab Republic, would divert 350, 000, 000 cubic meters of the waters feeding the Jordan, and would increase the salt content of that part of the Jordan River flowing through Israel.

Under the Arab plan, for which an appropriation is expected to be made at the Council meeting in Cairo, the waters of the Hasbani River, in Lebanon, would be diverted through a five-and-a-half-mile tunnel into the Litani River, which is also in Lebanon. The Hasbani now flows into Jordanian territory, thence into the Jordan River.

Through the Litani channel, the Hasbani waters would then flow into the Mediterranean Sea, according to the Arab plan. The resulting meager flow of waters through the Jordan, and the increased salinity of the Jordan waters, would make Israel’s plan unfeasible, according to the Arab engineers.

Adoption of the water diversion plan, the Cairo dispatches indicated, is likely to be the only concrete achievement of the Arab League Council meeting, being held on the Foreign Minister’s level. The Ministers at Cairo cannot agree on the plans, advanced by the UAR, for creation of an Arab “Palestine Army,” to be composed chiefly of Arab refugees from Palestine. Jordan opposes such a plan, fearing loss of sole Arab jurisdiction over the lands West of the Jordan River.

(At New Delhi, the proposal to raise a “Palestine Army” was declared “a plan of suicidal bent” by the influential Hindustani Times today. “Whether the Arab states like it or not,” stated the newspaper editorially, “Israel is there to stay and Israel has established this fact by arms, first in 1948, and again in 1956-through the Sinai campaign-when Israel showed it could be a dangerous adversary if threatened.”)

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