11. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel1

679. Jordan Waters. Embtels 786,2 817;3 Deptel 658.4 Israel Ambassador Harman had long talks in Department January 23 and 24 with, respectively, Under Secretary Harriman and Assistant Secretary Talbot.

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While Israel Embassy had led us expect final reply re Wiener-Criddle technical formula5 that would enable us make constructive proposals to Jordan to help it over difficult period ahead, Harman said he could not reply until Jerusalem assessed January 23–24 meetings.

In addition those points put to you by PriMin Eshkol January 15, Harman (1) sought agreement USG would desist from specific reference to Unified Plan allocations, particularly Yarmuk allocation for Adasiya, in talks with other governments; (2) pressed us reaffirm specifically that USG supports (a) downstream disposition of all saline waters that may be collected in and around Tiberias and (b) principle that no waters be wasted; and (3) urged USG not to press for final resolution of allocational differences since technical formula as far as Israel could possibly go.

Both the January 23 and January 24 conversations tended become rather complex reiterations of respective positions and concerns. So much so that at conclusion January 24 meeting and to make absolutely clear where USG stands in response PriMin Eshkol demarche, we handed Harman following “piece of paper”:

  • “1. We would strongly oppose Arab aggression if there should be an effort to frustrate Israel’s plans.
  • “2. Cairo Conference made it unlikely Arabs will seek recourse to Security Council. We can discourage such recourse but not deny it. We do not share Israel’s fears of United Nations involvement and its possible consequences. If problem should get into Council one way or another:
    • “a. We would oppose renegotiation of Unified Plan;
    • “b. We would be against halting or otherwise interfering with completion and operation of Israel’s Tiberias pumping plan provided latter is kept within Unified Plan;
    • “c. We would have to maintain flexibility as regards nature of verification and supervision over riparians’ Jordan water operations to ensure consistency with Unified Plan. We would not approve unilateral verification or supervision. In our understanding with Israel we have almost complete agreement as to nature of supervision called for in Unified Plan. We prefer leave matters at that for time being.
    • “d. We would anticipate continued closest consultation with Israel, but we should not now try to spell out tactics.
  • “3. We hope hear final confirmation of Israel’s assent to technical formula.6 This is matter of immediate practical importance in terms of what we can recommend to Jordan.
  • “4. Even with technical formula agreed to, we would like to be on firmer footing. So far, Israel has reserved its position and we have said what we must support. We will not take initiative but will continue present our view of specific allocations when questions of fact as to nature of Unified Plan arise. If there should be public airing of precise Unified Plan allocations, the difference between Israel’s position and what we support would appear. Arabs could drive a wedge between us. Therefore, we urge Israel’s formal acceptance of all Unified Plan allocations as United States is committed to these in its understanding with Arabs.”

On Harman’s other points, insofar as these not answered by position paper, we said opposition to water wastage and question of saline water disposal, like other elements technical formula, are matters we can support with Jordanians with conviction they are consonant with US-Arab understanding of Unified Plan. Entire formula is ad referendum to Jordan. This is a highly sensitive matter for that country and we are far from sure it will be able accept our recommendations.

You should convey foregoing position paper to PriMin Eshkol or other GOI official as our considered reply to Eshkol’s January 15 demarche. At your meeting you may wish add our strong feeling that absolute minimum of public statements remains as important in weeks ahead as it was during and before Cairo Conference. You may also say we preparing detailed analysis of conference and will be glad discuss it with GOI.

FYI: At January 23 meeting Under Secretary also raised with Harman regrettable recent publicity given confidential exchanges between USG and GOI, pointing out these not consonant with relationship of trust and discretion on which we place so much value.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 33–1 JORDAN RIVER. Confidential; Limdis; Immediate; Verbatim Text. Drafted by Crawford, cleared by Davies and Special Assistant for UN Planning Elmore Jackson, and approved by Harriman. Repeated to Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, London, Jerusalem, and USUN; and pouched to Aleppo, Algiers, Baghdad, Jidda, Khartoum, Kuwait, Moscow, Paris, Rabat, Tripoli, and Tunis.
  2. Telegram 786 from Tel Aviv, January 16, reported a January 15 meeting between Ambassador Barbour and Eshkol, in which Eshkol urged that if the Arab states decided to take the Jordan waters issue to the United Nations, the United States should support Israel in opposing any Security Council discussion of this issue, which could “only bring complications.” (Ibid.)
  3. Telegram 817 from Tel Aviv, January 22, urged a prompt response to Eshkol’s demarche. (Ibid.)
  4. This telegram, sent to USUN as telegram 1870 and repeated to Tel Aviv as telegram 658, set forth points which the Department of State proposed to make in reply to Eshkol’s January 15 demarche. (Ibid.)
  5. The technical formula was developed in talks held January 7–9 by Dr. Aharon Wiener, Director of the Israel National Water Planning Authority; U.S. consultant Wayne Criddle, who had been a hydrology consultant to Johnston in 1954–1955; and Department of State and Israeli Embassy officers. Records of the talks are ibid. The text of the technical formula reads as follows:

    “The 100 mcms delivered downstream by Israel shall be made up as follows:

    “15 mcms derived from saline springs around Lake Tiberias; 85 mcms to be released from Lake Tiberias. Of the 85 mcms from Lake Tiberias, about two-thirds will be released during the summer months at constant flow in accordance with procedures anticipated in 1955. All captured saline spring waters now draining into Lake Tiberias will be discharged by Israel at some point below Lake Tiberias. It is anticipated that the foregoing schedule of deliveries will be reviewed at such time as facilities for storage on the upper Yarmuk become operative.

    “Israel would receive an allocation of 25 mcms during the irrigation season at a maximum demand rate of 2.3 cubic meters per second from the Yarmuk River.

    “Jordan may use any Lake Tiberias spills, and Israel may use any uncaptured Yarmuk flood waters, to the extent either exists, rather than allowing them to waste to the Dead Sea.” (Telegram 281 to Amman, January 9; ibid.)

  6. Telegram 319 to Amman, January 30, stated that the Israeli Embassy informed the Department on January 29 that the Israeli Government accepted the Wiener-Criddle technical formula. (Ibid.)