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John F. Kennedy Administration: Memorandum on Israeli Position on Arab Refugees, Jordan Diversion

(December 9, 1963)

This is a memorandum from the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel regarding the Israeli position of Arab refugees and Jordan Waters.

Re Jordan waters Jernegan recalled his October 10 talk with Harman here and October 30 meeting with Yahil in Jerusalem. Jernegan said that at latter we received with gratification GOI reassurance full info re salinity, stream-flow, testing and withdrawal will be provided. But that meeting also showed continuing difference opinion re (1) amount Tiberias water GOI obliged release to Jordan, (2) Yarmuk allocation to Israel for Adasiya triangle, and (3) suggested Israel use of public relations theme signifying willingness accept international observation if Arabs do likewise.

Re (1) and (2) Jernegan said we can only support what was in Unified Plan (i.e, 100 mcms allocation of Tiberias waters to Jordan of which minimum of 85 mcms must be of average Tiberias salinity; 25 Yarmuk allocation to triangle). There is only one Plan and Arabs know what it is. USG is in position of "moral guarantor" of Israel's intentions. If we cannot truly say its actions are consistent with Plan, Arabs could exploit this difference in effort vitiate our support for Israel's forthcoming withdrawal program. Israel says there are in effect two Unified Plans, the other being that in Johnston's draft Memorandum July 5, 1955. Our records show however that on several occasions Johnston made it clear he regarded that draft as reflecting Israel's position and said it was not acceptable to him.

Re (3), we continue see need for quiet GOI statement of willingness accept observation on reciprocal basis. We need this to point to in talks with Arabs, who do not fully trust us as guarantor because we are so close to Israel. We are not discussing a mechanism. Mechanism provided for in Plan itself if it should ever come to that. We doubt it will. We think Arabs would be first to shy away from such mechanism.

Jernegan said we remain willing have Wiener and Criddle meet in Washington but not sure re purpose such talks or their timing.

Harman said he surprised by this approach, since he had understood full agreement reached with Jernegan in Jerusalem (Jernegan demurred), but would report and seek instructions.

Re refugees, Jernegan expressed concern at GOI statements in Knesset and at Knesset action disavowing paragraph 11. This poses serious problems for continuation our talk and for our efforts seek solution. Harman noted this but reacted along much same line as Meir with you (Embtel 649).


Sources: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963: Near East, 1962-1963, V. XVIII. DC: GPO, 2000.