120. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Egypt1

2000. Deptel 1999.2 Embassies Cairo Amman Damascus Beirut requested convey sense of following to Govts to which accredited: 1) US position on Jisr Banat Ya’qub diversion has been made clear. Deptel 575 to Damascus.3 Unilateral resumption of work without consent General Burns would be contrary to UNTSO and SC action. At same time threats or attempts by Arab states to use military force would be contrary to members’ obligations under UN Charter. 2) UN with active support of US and other friendly powers has succeeded in forestalling Israel unilateral action for two and one-half years. US has always made clear it opposed such action on basis it was violation of Armistice Agreement and our view that Jordan which is international river should be developed on basis of an international agreement. Should Israel be able to satisfy Burns at any time that resumption work would be done under conditions conforming with General Armistice Agreement new situation would be created. During past two and one-half years Arab states have had under study plans for equitable division and development of waters of Jordan, Yarmuk valleys. “Jordan Valley Plan” is result of friendly negotiations with all of states concerned and with active participation of Egypt which has lent highly valued technical and general advice. It is our belief “Jordan Valley Plan” now represents best possible reconciliation of conflicting views and best assurance protection of Arabs interests. We have noted with gratification Arab League technical committee has found that the Plan represents a satisfactory solution. 3) “Jordan Valley Plan” is project for economic development which stands on its own merits and need carry no political overtones. In course of negotiations it has been made clear nothing in Plan would be construed as political agreement between Arab states and Israel or be used to prejudice eventual Arab-Israel general settlement. US strongly urges that early Arab acceptance of Plan be forthcoming so that peaceful economic development of Jordan and Yarmuk valleys, so sorely needed by all states concerned, can commence.

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You should not mention Johnston’s letter to Nasser but may say Johnston before leaving for Far East recently expressed willingness meet with Arab Foreign Ministers at any time and place they choose if it should appear meeting would be productive.

Cairo Amman Damascus and Beirut should convey sense foregoing to Govts at earliest opportunity and in manner calculated demonstrate importance USG attaches this matter. Démarches should be carried out as quietly as possible. Tel Aviv should advise Israelis that consultations with Arab states are continuing in Washington, in Arab capitals and through Johnston. Views expressed in para 1 above should be made known to Israelis. Your British and French colleagues should be receiving timely instructions to make similar approaches in support of yours. You should consult with them in advance. Jerusalem inform Burns.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 684A.85322/2–2356. Secret. Drafted by Bergus, cleared in substance with Ludlow, and approved by Rountree who signed for Dulles. Also transmitted to Amman, Damascus, Beirut, and Tel Aviv. Repeated to London, Paris, Ankara, and Jerusalem and pouched to Baghdad and Jidda.
  2. Supra.
  3. Document 73.
  4. Cole reported from Jerusalem, in telegram 363, February 28, that he had conveyed the contents of telegram 2000 to Burns, who was appreciative of the U.S. effort to make its position clear to the governments concerned. (Department of State, Central Files, 683.84A/2–2856)