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Strife on salt lake

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Jul 31, 2009 | From the print edition

-- (Credit: Divya)The Israel-Palestinian conflict has left its ugly mark on a contest to choose the seven natural wonders of the world. The contest will not feature the Dead Sea because Israel and Palestine are at loggerheads over a committee to support the claims of the world's deepest salt lake. The Palestinian authority is incensed that Israeli nominees to the committee include Israeli settlers from the occupied West Bank

The New7Wonders of Nature is a global Internet contest.Its rules state that if a nominee site is located in more than one country, all countries must form an official supporting committee. Old rivals Israel and Jordan have both done so for the Dead Sea, which they share, but the Palestinian Authority has decided against. "We will not be in the committee," Palestinian tourism minister Khouloud Douaibes told Reuters, because the Israeli representatives "include West Bank settlers."

"New7Wonders understands that Palestinian sensitivities about settler communities around the Dead Sea, although the Palestinians have not directly communicated this to us," Tia Viering the spokesperson of the contest said.

But Gura Berger an Israeli government spokesperson, herself a West Bank settler, said, "The Dead Sea should be beyond politics. Neither my kids nor Palestinian kids will be able to enjoy it if nothing is done to save it."

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