THE JORDAN WATERS ISSUE

Created: 12/4/1964

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REPORT

THE JORDAN WATERS ISSUE

APPROVED FOB KBLEASE DATE:2

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

OFFICE OF CURRENT INTELLIGENCE

THE JORDAN WATERS ISSUE

Israel's Jordan River diversion project baa been In routine operation for more than three months, and work is proceeding on expansion of the systems facilities. The Arab states, meanwhile, are In the preparatory stagesountereffort which they hope will deprive Israel of much of the water It now seeks to utilize. While tho Arab projects are technically feasible, the financial and political problems Involved probably willdelay their implementation. Attitudes toward the Arab plans among the states directly involved range from Lebanon's reluctantto Syria's militant determination.

Operations

Israel began testing Its pumping facilities last May, and since midsummer has beenthe system continuously at about one fourth of itscapacity. Two pumphoused in an underground chamber, are being used to raise water froa below sea level at Lake Tiberiaseries of canals, tunnels, and conduits which carry the water southward to the Negev wasteland. hird pump complex is to becomewithin two or three years. In the meantime, reservoirs and other facilities along the route to the Negev are being completed. I

During the next three years, withdrawals willillion cubic meters annually, according to Israeli authorities. Much of this amount will be used to replenish underground reserves depleted by the droughts of previous years. When thereaches full capacity in *

four years, the withdrawals will be at an annual rate ofillion cubic meters, and direct irrigation of the Negev will be the principal objective.

The water in Lake Tiberias, however, is becoming more saline, partly because of the current withdrawals, and one of the major problems the Israelis now face Is to tap and divert the saline springs near the shore of the lake and at its bottom. Thus far, they have had little success in capping the springs in the lake, but they haveIn diverting the springs on the shore.

Israel is dumping highly saline water from these springs back into the river after it leaves the process which will make the waters of tbe lower Jordan virtually unusable for irrigation. Jordanian farmers, in particular, will be adversely affected. This will furtherIsraeli-Jordanian relations,

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even though the Jordanians too are contributing to thesalinity of the loverby withdrawing water fron its Ynrt.uk tributary.

In an effort to reduceproblem, the US, suggested

that Jordanumping station just south of the lake which could divert the fresherthe lake to Jordan's

Lgallon. system. Thewhile recognizingof the proposal,I

Arab Plans

The Arab plans involve the diversion of the headwaters of the Jordan River before they enter Israel, Under onewater from the Baniyas River, which rises In Syria, is to be conveyed southwardanal to the Yarmuk River, on the Syrian-Jordanian border. Along the way Syria will utilize some of the water for On theam Is to be built at Mukheibeh for storage of the diverted water,unnel Is to take this

wo-Hasbanl Rl Lebanon. Hasbani is Baniyas di upper Rasb Into Leban means of a

water to Jordan's East Ghor canal.

rab plans also envis-way diversion of the vor, which rises In Hater from the lower to be pumped to the version canal. The ani is to be diverted on's Lltanl River by and tunnel.

The Mukheibeh project was assigned first priority at the second Arab summit conference at Alexandria in September. ugoslav firm now is makingstudies for the dam, which is designed toillion cubic meters of water. The Jordanians estimate that lt will take four years to complete the structure. The cost of the dam and tunnel, estimatedillion, is to be borne by the Arab League, with major contributions coming from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Syria has completed most of the studies and preparations for construction of the canal, which will traverse itsand take an estimated two years to complete. Lebanon, how. ever. I

I Is moving slowly in fulfilling its role in the plans. The Lebanese and the Syrians are at odds as to where tbe pumps for the tower Hasbani project should be located. wants them to be Installed in Syria, which would putall of the canal diversion project in Syrian territory and would shift most of the

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cfio equlKSIe Arabod been provided lor.

Thepproved the Jehneton Plan win only

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iKo'loni ol cerwln pairi. Ihe Arab technical reprawnnatlvu ell reunraenscd that lhait covemnanri> plan, oirl

if An* League Polii.col Ca-n'Oee *oiled to endorse It end

l>5 teetened it HI the Arab Technlcd Carravilee fx "further coraideration."

responsibility for its defense to the Syrian Government. The issue is complicated by adispute in this area between the two countries. Thus fir little appears to have been done with regard to the tunnel for diverting the upper portion of the Hasbani.

Impact of the Plans

Accurate figures are not available regarding the amount of water that presently flows into Lake Tiberias, the natural reservoir of the Jordan River from which the Israelis arctheir withdrawals. The flow from the tributaries sometimes varies greatly from season to season, and some of the water In tbe lake cones from springs. Thus, lt is difficult towhat effect completeof the Arab plans would have on Israel's project.

It does appear that, at the most, the flow Into Tiberias could be reduced by somewhat more than half. This wouldalance of only about two thirds of the amount Israel plans to take. The Israeliany event, has stated that lt will oppose "unilateral and illegal measures" by tbe Arab states to divert theheadwaters, and "will act for the preservation of Israel's vital rights."

5 Johnston Plan for unified development of theRiver basin, although in effect rejected by the Arab states, still has some bearing on the waters dispute. The US, which proposed and negotiated the plan, considers the(see inset) lt made toseful yardstick for division of the Jordan waters, andhas urged both the Israelis and the Arabs to abide by it at least tacitly.

Israel agreed to theproposals5 and has since said that lt will adhere to them, although the capacity of Israeli facilities eventually would permit withdrawals inof the plan's allocation to Israel.

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In anticipation of ahostile Israeli response to Arab efforts to divert the Jordan's headwaters, tbe first Arab summit conferenceecided to Increase Arab military strength. Tho build-up ls ln progress through the aedluinited Arabdominated by Egypt. At the Alexandria conference ln September, the LebaneseMaintained that no counter-diversion construction should begin until complete Military preparedness had been achieved. In the end, however, theyttaslr's "coaproalse" proposal that construction begin without delay but that actual

diversion be deferred until the Military build-up ls

Sensitivity on both sides over the waters issue hasadded to the chronicalong the Israeli-Syrian border. The clash there on ovember occurred lo the area where the tributaries of the upper Jordan enter Israel. While the fighting had no directto tho waters dispute, both Israeli officials and the report on the incident by the UN Truce Supervisioncited the Importance of this area toater projects. Firing broke out again in this areaecember. ls likely to be Increasingly tough about activity at this part of the frontier when and as the Arab diversion work progresses

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