Commentary: To make peace in the Middle East, focus first on water
As the conflict continues to claim victims on both sides, it’s important to point out that when President Trump’s Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, was looking for an early success in the new administration’s peace efforts, he found it – in water.
For Palestinian communities that suffer water shortages and require Israeli approval to increase pumping of shared natural water resources, an agreement to increase water sales from Israel to the Palestinian Authority by 50 percent annually will dramatically improve lives and livelihoods without creating water shortages on the Israeli side.
For example, the draft Taylor Force Act, which prohibits American aid to the West Bank and Gaza, does not exempt water programs.
How might cuts to U.N.
The United States clearly recognizes the importance of international water security, having recently released its Global Water Strategy, which coordinates the work of 16 U.S. government agencies and private partners.
For the Palestinian government, the priority is to increase water provision to meet basic needs, supporting economic growth as well as its aspirations for a state with the right to access and develop its own resources.
Today 70 percent of Israel’s drinking water is produced through desalinization and 85 percent of its wastewater is treated and reused to meet agricultural needs.
A logical next step, beyond water sales, would be to negotiate a fair allocation of the natural water resources that Israelis and Palestinians share, thus solving one of the core issues plaguing the peace process.
However, both sides have shortsightedly refused to negotiate over natural water reallocation, wanting any water deal to remain part of a negotiation on other final-status issues, like borders and refugees.
Israeli politicians insist that a better water deal for the Palestinians must be matched by Palestinian compromises on refugees.