What To Do About Water

Haim Watzman

Today’s rollout of a draft model Israeli-Palestinian water accord by EcoPeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East (FOEME) demonstrated several of the salient but frustrating truths about this most urgent area of conflict.

First, it’s solvable. With proper planning, conservation, reuse, and production, there is enough water available for all 11 million Israelis and Palestinians living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

Second, it has to be solved now. It can’t wait for a comprehensive peace agreement.

Third, the Palestinians aren’t getting their fair share—and it’s not just the Palestinians who are saying this. Nearly all Israeli experts agree.

Fourth, despite the direness of the situation, Israel’s leaders are doing little to create a political constituency for the changes required.

The FOEME draft agreement, written by David Brooks, a Canadian hydrogeologist and economist, and by Julie Trottier, a Belgian political scientist and chemist, proposes to get away from the zero-sum “dividing up the pie” way of addressing water conflicts and proposes to see water as a dynamic entity.

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The One-State Dissolution

Haim Watzman

“Suicide,” said Shaya. He meant the one-state “solution” to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. More and more Palestinian intellectuals are now advocating a single state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, this after years in which short-sighted Israeli governments pursued policies aimed at making it impossible to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Suicide? But isn’t a unitary state in which Israelis and Palestinians live peacefully and equally under the law the epitome of Western liberal values?

Let me tell you a little bit about Shaya. Like me, he’s a transplanted American. He’s got a long record of left-wing Zionist activism. He works to promote understanding between Jews and Arabs, democratic values in Israeli society, and equality and social justice. On the political scale, he’s to my left—in fact, on occasion in the past he’s gone so far as to vote in national elections for the non-Zionist Communists on the grounds that they are the Knesset’s most vociferous and effective advocates of peace and social justice (I thought he was crazy).

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