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July 28, 1995 - Image 127

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-07-28

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

DAVID SYME

but will retain control of the joint
resources. That failed to suffice,
however, and the two sides re-
mained stuck on the issue.
Mr. Peres also stressed that
the true solution to the water
conflict is not a re-division of re-
sources but the creation of new
ones.
With their populations like-
ly to double in the next genera-
tion, both sides will run out
of water and be forced to desali-
nate or import it. Palestinians
admit the need to build new op-
tions.
But they complain that forc-
ing them to opt for expensive sp-
lutions — which Israel's
economy is far better equipped
to bear — is patently unfair.
Gershon Baskin, co-director
of the Israel/Palestinian Center
for Research and Information
(IPCRI), sees the solution in
some basic economic and psy-
chological changes. Some 80 per-
cent of the Middle East's water
is used for agriculture. Yet even
as they squabble over water,
both Israelis and Palestinians
continue to raise water-inten-
sive crops.
"Growing oranges in Gaza is
insane," Mr. Baskin said at a re-
cent IPCRI symposium on wa-
ter. "It's the equivalent of
exporting water to Europe in lit-
tle orange containers."
More and more, Israel is
growing crops with recycled or
saline water. But until recently,
it viewed the import of fruits and
vegetables as virtual heresy. The
Palestinians suffer from their
own cultural constraints.
"Citrus is history for the
Palestinian," one participant
said at the IPCRI symposium.
"His citrus tree is like his
children." Nevertheless, Mr.
Baskin insists in economies
where water equals money "it's
easier to import oranges than to
build a [water] pipeline from
Turkey," which is one of the sug-
estions for making up the future
shortfall.
And since at 80 cents per cu-
bic meter desalinated water will
be too costly to use for agricul-
ture, Mr. Baskin believes in the
long run Israel, at least, will be
"an exporter of seeds and im-
porter of food."
In the short run, however, the
approach to the problem re-
mains more ideological than
pragmatic. As long as Israel
views self-sufficiency as a key
ingredient of its security, it will
be loath to depend on others for
food.
And as long as Palestinians
feel controlled and exploited,
they will continue to press for
their rights. Thus, two years into
the Oslo process, the two parties
continue to rake over their old
fears and resentments, espe-
cially when the issue at hand is
water, 1112 - -

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