217. Telegram From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State1

1004. Reference: Deptel 707.2 GOI officials have discussed informally with Embassy EXIM Bank loan application. They have been informed that as soon as they have provided enough data to make analysis possible Embassy, with assistance USOM technicians, will make economic appraisal and comments to the Department.

As regards political aspects and relation Banat Yaacov, Embassy understands that an informal governmental meeting was held March 22 to consider sounding which Russell had made with Eban re willingness GOI defer work water diversion in return for Exim Bank financial assistance water irrigation.3 Consensus meeting was that discussion Washington was so nebulous as to provide no basis for presentation to Cabinet or Inner Cabinet group and Eban was requested to obtain more precise proposals.

Embassy believes that driving force for GOI to go ahead with Banat Yaacov work in near future derives from judgment that work in DZ can be completed now without a war, whereas if nothing done Arabs in short time will be militarily so strong as to deny Israel use of Jordan waters forever. Last conclusion is consistent with paragraph 4 Cairo’s 1835 to Department4 most doubtful whether any Syrian leader in the future would agree to water diversion for same reason Quwattly cannot agree because of Shishakly’s successful stand in 1953… .

With reference specific questions last paragraph Deptel 707, Embassy submits following (1) Believe leverage obtaining one year deferment Israel work in DZ would be greatest if affirmative decision made by US on GOI arms request. Jet planes are considered so vital to Israel’s existence that it is believed possible they would accept this condition. Furthermore, availability of these arms and re-establishment military equilibrium would tend dissipate theory that [Page 401] if canal not completed this year it would be impossible to do so later. (2) If no arms are to be forthcoming, believe there is some possibility GOI might be prevailed upon to defer work this year if there was firm definitive commitment by USG to support work at some defined future date and that commitment take form which can be demonstrated to the Israeli people. As example some small USG financial contribution to the work on the Jordan diversion outside the DZ. (Israelis at official level are understood to have explored an approach along these lines in connection Washington discussion Exim Bank application but without any conclusion having been reached.) (3) Embassy does not believe that an Exim Bank loan for irrigation would reduce Israel interest in financial aid now anticipated in connection JVP. Embassy does not believe that Israel is interested in securing Arab rejection JVP. Irrespective validity Israel position on other issues they have consistently followed policy of desiring a settlement of the water problem and prefer to operate mutually with the Arabs in accordance with the provisions of the technical agreement. The evidence available points to the conclusion that Israel’s apprehensions about Arab desires to deny them an equitable share of the Jordan waters are justified and Embassy believes that Israelis are entitled to full USG support in being protected from interminable Arab dilatory tactics.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 884A.10/3–2656. Secret. Received at 9:44 a.m., March 27.
  2. On March 24, in telegram 707, the Department informed the Embassy in Tel Aviv of the Israeli Government’s application to the Export-Import Bank for a loan of $75 million and asked the Embassy for views “as to likelihood that US favorable action on loan request would induce Israel Govt to undertake to refrain from work at Banat Ya’qub for year or two if in addition US were to agree take position at end of that time favoring unilateral diversions by Israel and Arab states of respective portions of Jordan, within limits and terms Jordan Valley Plan, even though JVP still not accepted.” (Ibid., 884A.10/3–2456)
  3. See Document 213.
  4. Dated March 14, not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 674.84A/ 3–1456)