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State Dept. Doubts Report on Arab-israel Accord on Water Project

February 18, 1955
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

State Department sources indicated unofficial doubts today of a report from Damascus that Israel and the Arab states of Syria, Jordan and Lebanon had reached agreement on a proposal by Presidential envoy Eric Johnston that Lake Tiberias should be used as the main reservoir for a Jordan Valley development scheme. The Israel Embassy here had no information concerning the report.

The dispatch, carried today in the New York press, cited sources close to Ambassador Johnston’s mission and an Arab spokesman as saying that both sides are reported in agreement on the “necessity” of a comprehensive plan for development of the Jordan’s watershed and neutral international supervision of the water distribution. The report said that Jordan had made a “concession” in agreeing to the use of Lake Tiberias as a reservoir instead of a dam on the Yarmuk River and might be ready to make a further “concession” regarding her share of the water, if it could obtain a “higher dam on the Yarmuk than the one proposed” in the Johnston plan.

The dispatch pointed out that agreement on the use of Lake Tiberias has removed the last major obstacle to the establishment of a supranational Jordan Valley Authority, but that Syrian political developments have postponed for several months hopes of complete agreement. It added that Ambassador Johnston planned a fourth trip to the Near East “within a few months” in the expectation of obtaining final agreement from both sides.

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