Sunday, February 20, 2011

Peace in the Middle East Isn't About Land But Water

Israel wouldn't still be occupying the West Bank in the Palestinian territory if it didn't sit atop a very large freshwater aquifer, a resource that Israeli leaders openly declare essential to the very existence of their state.  That makes the Israel-Palestine conflict intractable, utterly incapable of a negotiated peace.  Israel is not going to give control of that water back to its rightful owners, the Palestinians.   All this nonsense about "roadmaps" and peace initiatives is pure crap.   Until someone comes along who can force Israel back within its 1967 borders it won't happen.

The unrest that is spreading today throughout the Middle East is just a taste of what is to come thanks to the double whammy of freshwater depletion coupled with the impacts of global warming.   A region with a growing population that already lacks sufficient freshwater is going to have much less.

Fortunately, I guess, the Swiss and the Swedes are optimists.   They think if the Middle Eastern states do a collective Rodney King and all agree to "get along" they can avoid having to go to war over water.   That's the conclusion of a report from the Strategic Foresight Goup, "The Blue Peace."

The report gives a pretty stark look at the water problems that now confront Israel and its Arab neighbours.   The river flow of the River Jordan was 1,300 million cubic metres in 1960.   It's down to 100 MCM today.  Iraq's freshwater lifelines, the Tigris and Euphrates, are now threatened by its upstream neighbours, Syria and Turkey, which are having to confront their own freshwater challenges.  Egypt faces a similar threat from its neighbours upstream along the Nile.

The Dead Sea is rapidly shrinking.  In the 60's it was 390 metres below sea level.  Today it's 420.  Today its surface area has shrunk by a third and, unless the decline is arrested, the sea will be a mere lake in 50-years after which it may disappear altogether.

I really don't think we're doing any favours to the Palestinians or the Israelis by all the farcical talk about peace negotiations and return of territory.   That is absolutely putting the cart ahead of the horse.   It virtually guarantees a continuation of the futility of all the past efforts.   The way forward must begin with the water issue and that means Israeli agreement to a deal with the Palestinians on that damned aquifer.  Israel's claw has to be pried loose from that resource.  So long as Israeli control of that aquifer remains unchallenged it has no incentive to negotiate a settlement and that's too dangerous a situation to leave unresolved.


Moshe Sharon said...

An Arab from Gaza and a self-confessed member of Hamas once asked me, “How can we have peace?” I though it was a strange question coming from a terrorist. When I asked him if he was ready to recognize Israel's right to exist, he answered, “There is no such country as 'Israel'; there is only Palestine, my country.” That's why negotiating peace with Hamas or any other Arab faction is a fool's errand. I don't care what borders you want for Israel. In this man’s mind, Israel’s right to exist is not an issue because there is no Israel; there is just a large, well-armed group of space-occupying Jewish squatters, who deserve death. Furthermore, every U.S. president keeps saying the same mantra, “They [Palestinian Authority] must recognize Israel’s right to exist.” Correction; they must first recognize that Israel exists. Actually, somebody forgot to tell all of the politicians that we Jews don’t need their permission to exist as a nation; G-d gave that to us at Mount Sinai.

The Mound of Sound said...

Thanks for your insights, Moshe. I follow your argument right up to the end but that's where I, as a devout Agnostic, lose you. You'll have to convince me there's a God and that she's the God you proclaim, before I'll ever accept that this God gave you or any Christian or any Muslim anything.