243. Telegram From the Embassy in Egypt to the Department of State1

350. From Johnston.2 Yesterday during long session with HKJ Ministerial Comite I stated following position in response Prime Minister’s points (Amman telegram 99 to Department3).

We prepared recommend financing 126-meter (300MCM) dam at Maqarin but cannot recommend expenditure additional funds to construct uneconomically large foundation on highly speculative possibility that Jordan will increase dam height in future. Even in unlikely event Jordan later obtains necessary funds and thus becomes able make political decision store more water Arab territory, it is uncertain whether dam would be raised, additional dam on Yarmuk would be constructed or Tiberias arrangements continued.
We conceded that Israel due 25 rather than 40MCM from Yarmuk for Jordan-Yarmuk triangle. However we maintained position HKJ requirements adequately met by 100MCM of upper Jordan water from Tiberias. Thorough discussion engineering data has confirmed that total quantity available to HKJ adequate irrigate all arable lands Jordan Valley. (Incidentally information given us privately from informed source indicates ground water explorations more encouraging than previously known.)
Question neutral supervision not discussed in formal session but we explored with ministers most concerned and submitted written proposals for supervision to comite. Jordanians indicated more interest in guarantees than in machinery supervision.

Pursuant Prime Minister’s suggestion I have supplied him with letter reaffirming that our proposals do not “in any way alter or prejudice the refugees right to repatriation or compensation” and that it is “not intended to have any other political effect with respect to boundaries, territorial claims, rights or responsibilities under the several general armistice agreements or any other outstanding political issue.”

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At comite’s specific suggestion we handed them a “memo of United States proposals” embodying all elements of proposed understanding in our terms. If accepted memo would provide solid foundation for basic agreement both sides.

Comment: In my judgment HKJ seriously wants project but must surmount several difficulties. On one hand these involve substance of proposals and internal and public relations problems while on other they relate to HKJ ability enlist support other Arab countries. Assuming solution internal difficulties Jordanian Cabinet appears willing try isolate project from question general political accommodation in area and secure support Lebanon Syria and Egypt. We attempting Cairo and Beirut provide maximum support this direction and would welcome help Department and field.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 684A.85322/8–3155. Confidential. Received at 11:33 p.m. Repeated to Beirut, Amman, Damascus, London, Tel Aviv, Baghdad, Jidda, and Paris.
  2. Johnston arrived in Cairo on August 31.
  3. Dated August 30, it reported that at an informal meeting the previous day, the Prime Minister stated that Jordan was prepared to accept the Jordan Valley proposals on economic grounds if certain modifications could be agreed upon: (1) construction of a dam at Maqarin capable of supporting a possible future increase in dam height from 126 meters (300MCM storage capacity) to 147 meters (460MCM capacity); (2) adjustments in the amount of upper Jordan River water available from Tiberias; and (3) more specific “guarantees” as to action in the event of a violation. The telegram further stated that Jordan insisted that a political decision be taken in concert with a subcommittee of interested Arab States in Cairo. (Department of State, Central Files, 684A.85322/8–3055)