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Let peace flow like water..

WATERSHED: THE ROLE. OF FRESH WATER IN THE ISRAEU-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT Stephen C Lonergan and David B Brooks Published by: International Development Research Centre - Unpriced

By B B Vohra
Published: Friday 15 March 1996

-- (Credit: Illustrations: Vishwajyoti)THIS is a carefully researched study of the extent of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the Jordan river waters. The subject has been examined in a non-partisan manner not only in the context of its historical'setting, but also of the dimensions of problems in water sharing between all countries situated in the Jordan river basin - including Lebanon, Syria and Jordan - in terms of quantity as well as quality.

Although the book rules out the possibility of the water dispute leading to a resumption of hostilities in the region, it does note that the 1967 war was possibly motivated by the Israeli desire to augment its water resources.

The authors emphasise that a rational approach to the problem must include a consideration of the resources available in the Jordan river basin as a whole, and deal with all the concerned parties in an equitable and rational manner. By increasing efficiency in conservation and utilisation of water, and cutting down on its agricultural programme, which accounts for around 80 per cent of the total consumption, Israel may cope, with the crisis and bring about peace in the region.

In this context, it should be noted that Israel has, since 1967, blatantly denied to Palestinian farmers anything close to a fair share of the considerable groundwater resources existing in . the West Bank.

The book notes that the needs of the growing population in the region can be satisfied only by importing water, whether through pipelines 'or tankers, from either Turkey or Egypt, or from both. However, such a solution will become feasible only after a formula that has been mutually ratified and is equitable, is arrived at.

Although the book principally appeals to those studying the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, it will nevertheless interest environmentalists the world over.

Indian experts would be especially interested to learn of ways in which Israel makes use of its aquifiers for water storage, recycles its industrial and municipal effluents for use in agriculture, and grows salt-resistant crops to utilise its brAckish groundwater resources.

The book has the potential to attract the attention of our policymakers dealing with iriter-state water disputes (for instance, Punjab- Haryana and Karnataka- Tamil Nadu water sharing problems) and the Ganga water dispute between India and Bangladesh.

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