For a few drops

 
Published: Thursday 31 July 1997

in the recent months, water has become a major bone of contention between Israel and Jordan. Recently, a ceremony to inaugurate a peace park on the border between the two countries was cancelled because Jordan insisted that Israel should fulfil its commitment, under the 1994 Jordan-Israel peace treaty, to supply a certain amount of water each year. Most of the water from the river Yarmuk and its tributaries is controlled by Israel.

According to the 1994 treaty, Israel is to provide 200 million cubic metres (m cu m) of water annually to Jordan, mostly from the Yarmuk river. But half of this water will be supplied only after dams are built on the river. At present, Israel supplies 50 m cu m from the Sea of Galilee, but the remaining 50 m cu m poses a problem. Israel has suggested that this need can be fulfilled by desalinating brackish water by both countries at an initial cost of us $150 million. Jordan is, however, reluctant to share the cost on the ground that the water is theirs by right.

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