16. Telegram From the Embassy in Jordan to the Department of State1
Saw King afternoon February 22 after his return from Aqaba. Drawing on Deptel 346 and thorough briefings by Criddle and Symmes I sought first to reassure him that primary purpose US proposals was to assist Jordan obtain its rightful share of waters in quickest and least costly manner. Pointed out that due geography of area Jordan, as downstream user, was vulnerable to any Israeli cut off of water which might occur in retaliation for Arab actions whether taken by Jordan or by others. (At this point, King nodded assent.) I went on to explain reasons why US believes it essential retain Unified Plan as background control until or unless replaced by other agreements and why we can consider financial help only for measures that do not contravene plan. At same time, made clear we understand that Jordanian, or Arab, actions must be portrayed by them as part of “Arab plan” and as measures to take what rightfully belongs to Arabs. I then briefly described once more our suggested power plant pool pump and connecting pipe to East Ghor Canal which I had outlined in some detail during previous talk (Embtel 390) and went over in more detail than previously other projects in which USG disposed to be helpful (paragraph 5 Deptel 346). Emphasized that although all are within Unified Plan they not being proposed as alternative to any “Arab plan” which might emerge but could well be parts of that plan. (Especially stressed this point because of indication that Jordanian technicians, thanks to Criddle’s persuasive powers, now taking favorable view of US suggestions but feared political authorities would reject them as being substitute we were trying to talk Arabs into adopting in place of “Arab plan.”) In speaking of Maqarin Dam I said any USG assistance would have to be clearly related to construction of 300 MCM storage but this did not mean we would oppose the eventual erection with non-USG funds of storage or power facilities in excess this capacity. Reverting again to [Page 39] risks for Jordan involved in contravening terms of Unified Plan and consequent loss our leverage on Israelis to require them to continue to conform, I said US had succeeded in getting their firm agreement to a technical formula re use of Tiberias and Yarmouk waters provided we could assure them Arabs would tacitly abide by it. I then handed him copy of formula, pointing out that adherence to it would ensure sweet water enough to fulfill needs Jordanian farmers on lower Jordan via power plant pool and East Ghor Canal. Concluded by expressing hope we could continue to keep in close and frank consultation.
King read formula carefully but made no comment other than that he would study it. Continued he thought we knew his general views which he had expressed in previous conversation and would not now repeat. Would have to press ahead with “Arab plan” but thought that its final provisions might not be very different from those of Unified Plan. Then asked if we had discussed our proposals with others. I said Criddle had fully explained them to Salim4 but had not presented the technical formula as explicitly as I had just done. As we were walking to the door, King remarked he was worried by report Hafiz had stated yesterday that Syria would feel obliged to shell Israeli military installations when pumping from Tiberias commenced. I said this worried me also. Since Arabs making great point of being completely united on measures to combat Israeli pumping plans, Israelis might feel the more justified in retaliations against any Arab state—e.g. Jordan.
Comment: King again calm and friendly. Difficult to predict how much he impressed by US proposals or how he will react to technical formula.5 Will follow up by discussing proposals with Court Minister Hazem Nuseibeh and hopefully combined effects this plus direct presentation to King plus apparent favorable attitude of Salim and Jordanian technicians will serve persuade Arabs to back power plant pool and pipeline project and tacitly to abide by formula, at least for next year or two.
As one other measure which would appeal to King and would give him opportunity to appear to be taking firm measures versus Israeli recommend I be authorized explicitly to suggest construction low diversion dam below entrance to Adasiya Tunnel, provided it so constructed as to allow flow contemplated in formula for Adasiya Triangle. Understand such dam necessary anyway for efficient regulation flow.
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 33–1 JORDAN RIVER. Confidential; Limited Distribution. Repeated to Tel Aviv and USUN.↩
- Telegram 346 to Amman, February 12, instructed Charge Geoffrey W. Lewis to arrange a meeting with King Hussein to present U.S. proposals concerning Jordan waters and laid out U.S. views on the subject. (Ibid.)↩
- Telegram 390 from Amman, February 14, reported that Lewis had met with the King but that his presentation was incomplete because part of telegram 346 had been delayed in transmission. (Ibid.)↩
- UAR chief water expert Dr. Mohammad Salim.↩
- Lewis reported in telegram 417 from Amman, March 5, that Hussein told him on March 3 that he could not accept the technical formula. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 33–1 JORDAN RIVER)↩