Department of State,
Washington, June 17, 1964.
Hon. Kenneth Keating,
Dear Senator Keating:
Thank you for your letter of I June in which you request clarification of certain points made in the Department's letter of 25 May.
You asked specifically whether we regard Israel's present water diversion program as consistent with the 1955 unified plan. At a news briefing on 6 May, a Department of State spokesman who was asked this question replied publicly, "We have been informed by the Government of Israel that its use of the waters from the Jordan Valley will be within the allocations of the 1955 unified plan." We have every reason to believe that this statement is true as regards the present Israel project, and we therefore support Israel's current efforts. In addition, as the President stated in the joint communiqué of 2 June on the occasion of Israel Prime Minister Eshkol's visit, the United States and Israel will undertake joint studies on problems of desalting water, as part of the effort being undertaken to solve the problem of scarcity of water, and hope for rapid progress toward large-scale desalting in Israel.
With regard to your question as to whether the United States would take action to prevent other Middle Eastern States from frustrating this plan militarily, a longstanding principle of U.S. policy in the Near East is our opposition to aggression. This policy was expressed in the late President Kennedy's statement of 8 May 1963, in which he made it unmistakably clear that we oppose the use or threat of force. He also said that, "In the event of direct or indirect aggression we would support appropriate courses of action in the United Nations or on our own to put a stop to such aggression." As stated in the joint communiqué during Prime Minister Eshkol's visit, President Johnson specifically reiterated this statement of U.S. policy. In the event that other Middle Eastern States attempt to frustrate the Israeli plan by other counter-diversion projects, the United States would oppose such projects if it appeared that the Arab riparian States combined were offtaking waters in excess of the combined allocations to the Arab States specified in the 1955 plan. The form of any such U.S. opposition would of course depend upon the circumstances prevailing at that time.
If I can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to let me know. Sincerely yours,
Frederick G. Dutton,