Natural Resources Are Important
Land, Water, Oil All Crucial in Mideast Conflict
Here are a few selections from recent reports on the Middle East conflicts.
Dilip Hiro, in the May 22, 2001 issue of the Guardian (United Kingdom), said:
Behind the drama of shootings, stone throwing, fighter attacks, tank incursions, and razing of houses and orchards - that have attracted the world's attention in the eight-month low-intensity Israeli-Palestinian warfare - lies something undramatic: land.
Mid-East Realities reported on May 24:
In the end its not really the "settlements" ... control and use of WATER is even more at the heart of the conflict between the two competing societies. And now the Israelis are actually turning to a largely Muslim state, Turkey, to start importing water by ship.
And the British Broadcasting Corporation reporter Paul Wood noted, in a May 23 article titled "Israel Faces Water Crisis":
Israel is being warned that the country's water supplies are dangerously low, and it will have to accept drastic cuts in consumption.
As fresh water supplies diminish, polluted water from pools deeper underground is drawn upwards, making the reserves undrinkable
Israeli Water Commissioner Shimon Tal is expected to call for a total ban on watering lawns for the next three years and for a 10% cut in the supply to industry.
But the issue is politically charged and linked to the wider dispute over Palestinian statehood.
In the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians run local government but Israel still controls most of the water resources.
The Palestinians accuse Israel of diverting water away from their towns to keep Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories fully supplied.
Dispute over water resources has been a fact of life in the West Bank since the land was occupied by Israel in 1967
They say they have to watch Jewish settlers hosing down lawns and filling swimming pools while in some Palestinian areas, people have to manage on less than half the daily minimum for health and sanitation laid down by the World Health Authority.
Israel traditionally denies it is responsible for such dire shortages, saying Palestinian farmers are to blame for using illegal connections to irrigate their fields.
But there is no doubt that subterranean water reserves are steadily shrinking as the demands of two fast-growing societies outpace natural replenishment by rivers and rainfall.
And as fresh water supplies diminish, polluted water from pools deeper underground is drawn upwards, making the reserves undrinkable.
The only real solution, experts agree, is to create more fresh water.
Water is a contentious issue in the Middle East
For the long term, Israel says that countries throughout the region could find plentiful supplies through water desalination - a solution which would benefit Gaza which could expect to be close to one of the proposed new desalination plants.
And as a short term emergency measure, Israel might import water from Turkey using specially converted oil tanker ships - although this is worrying to Arab countries already alarmed at the close military ties developing between Turkey and Israel.
Dispute over water resources has been a fact of life in the West Bank since the land was occupied by Israel in 1967.
The Palestinians say that Israel will try to keep hold of the reserves beneath the bedrock there - it is just another of the complex problems still to be solved in any final peace agreement.
What's your opinion on natural resources in the Middle East? Who owns natural resources? What would be the ownership system most conducive to long-term peace in that region? Tell your views to The Progress Report:
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