Vaclav Havel et al: A Peace of Water

On Project Syndicate, Vaclav Havel et al write:

“The situation may be more promising than it appears, but one cannot deny that hope for real changes on the ground has faded since talks were re-launched two years ago. This loss of faith is, sadly, establishing a dynamic that will itself inhibit the concessions that are needed if a permanent agreement is to be found.

Because an impasse beckons, it is vitally important to work on those areas where intensive negotiations have the potential to produce quick results. Fresh water is one such area.

Across the Middle East, water is a security issue. Indeed, people are now recognizing two important facts. First, nations faced with conflicting claims to water have historically found ways to collaborate rather than to fight. Even during the 60 years of conflict in the Jordan Valley, water has more often been a source of cooperation than of conflict.

Second, water scarcity is seldom absolute, and even less often an explanation of poverty. To quote the United Nations Human Development Report for 2006: “There is more than enough water in the world for domestic purposes, for agriculture and for industry….Scarcity is manufactured through political processes and institutions that disadvantage the poor.”

But almost every nation in the Middle East is using more water than arrives on a renewable basis. There simply is not enough water for everything these nations want to use it for, and the situation will only worsen. Yet, even in Palestine, the key water issue is not thirst, but arrested economic development. In the short term, Palestine needs more water to provide employment and income from farming; in the longer term, educational, cultural, and political changes are needed in order to develop a capacity to adapt.”

Read it all.

Israelis and Palestinians are working on it.

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