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Arab-Israeli Dispute Discussed in Washington

Apr. 14, 1964 - King Hussein of Jordan (left) tonight ruled out the possibility of an international compromise on the Arab-Israeli dispute over Israel’s plan to divert waters from the Jordan River. Arriving in Washington as a representative of the Arab world and the first Arab leader to visit President Johnson since the President took office last November, King Hussein said at a news conference that it was “too late” to revive an American plan to map out a formula for the division of the Jordan waters. The 28-year-old monarch was reported to have taken the same position in his first round of private talks with President Johnson at the White House today. The two leaders will meet again tomorrow.

Israel’s Arab neighbors have been disturbed about Israel’s plans to divert about 150 million cubic meters of water from the Jordan River system at the Sea of Galilee this spring to irrigate lands in the Negev desert. King Hussein said Arab nations considered the Israeli development project “a violation of the international law and an act which hits at the stability of the area.”

At a January conference in Cairo, officials of 13 Arab nations decided not to oppose Israel’s plans to tap the Jordan River by force, but to dam two of the Jordan’s tributaries rising in Arab lands in order to prevent Israel from ever getting the water. The Johnson Administration is known to look with some disfavor on these plans.

President Johnson was understood to have reaffirmed the United States’ support for a plan advanced in 1953 by the later Eric Johnson that called for the Arab nations to get 60% of the Jordan’s waters and Israel to get 40%.

At a black-tie dinner given in the King’s honor by President and Mrs. Johnson, King Hussein, who is known as a jazz fan, was treated to some modern jazz by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. The guests were also invited to dance to the Air Force’s Strolling Strings in the Blue Room of the White House.

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