213. Memorandum From the Secretary of State’s Special Assistant (Russell) to the Under Secretary of State (Hoover)1
- Possibility of Securing Israel Postponement of Work at Jisr Banat Ya’qub in Connection with Export-Import Bank Loan
You will recall that at your meeting with Ambassador Eban on March 152 he informed you that the Israel Government had filed an application for a $75 million Export-Import Bank loan to cover the foreign exchange component of a program for developing the water resources of the coastal plain, notably the Yarkon and Kishon Rivers [Page 396] and certain of the wadis along the coast.3 Following that meeting, I asked Ambassador Eban whether the construction he described and other construction outside the demilitarized zone would not utilize all of Israel’s construction resources. I commented that if his Government were committed to a large scale development program through such a loan and if Israel could not in any case utilize the waters of the Jordan River for a considerable period of time, his Government might be willing to refrain from work at Banat Ya’qub for a year or more on condition that the United States would agree to taking a position at the end of that time favoring unilateral diversions by Israel and the Arab states of their respective shares of the Jordan River, consonant with the Jordan Valley Plan even though it had not been accepted by all the parties. Ambassador Eban readily agreed that there was no engineering necessity to begin work at Banat Ya’qub for some time. He led me to believe there was some possibility that Israel might refrain from work for an extended period under the hypothetical circumstances I suggested, and said that he would refer the matter to his Government.
It now appears from an examination of the preliminary data sent to the Export-Import Bank that the construction to be financed by the loan would include facilities of sufficient size to carry not only the coastal waters but those waters of the Jordan River which Israel expects to divert to the coast and Negev. This complicates the matter, since if the loan were granted we would be unable to say that it had no connection with Israel’s plans for the development of the Jordan River, but it still might be possible to work out a satisfactory arrangement.