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Tuesday, June 02, 2015

They'd rather die of thirst than recognize Israel's legitimacy

Jonathan Tobin has a must-read commentary on why Israel's brilliant solution to its water crisis won't promote peace with the 'Palestinians.'
Only a few years ago, Israelis were concerned about the question of how they could continue to grow their first world economy with a growing population in a country where there simply wasn’t enough water. What followed was a major investment in technology and enactment of sensible policies about water use that led to this startling fact. As the Times states, “More than 50 percent of the water for Israeli households, agriculture and industry is now artificially produced.” Though water is expensive, the prospect that the country will run out is gone. In a region that is in desperate need of Israel’s expertise, you would think this development would lead to better relations with the Palestinians and the Arab world. But what is missing from the Times’ story is the fact that there is little sign of any interest in cooperation on the part of Israel’s antagonists. As much as they ought to take advantage of the Jewish state’s advances, such concerns are always secondary to their main priority: fighting Israel.

The story of how Israel revolutionized its production and use of water is another proud chapter in the country’s history. In the past couple of decades as attacks on Israel’s legitimacy have multiplied, we haven’t heard much about Jews making the desert bloom. That old line about the rebirth of this old land under the care of a returned people has been treated as an outdated cliché by biased journalists who preferred story lines that reinforced the libels about Israel being an apartheid state. That theme was also part of the narrative about water.
To the extent that water has been mentioned much in the news, it generally served as another point of attack as Palestinian claims that Israel was “stealing” their water in the West Bank was often reported as fact rather than a political talking point. As even the Times notes in its feature, Israel continues to supply the Palestinians with more water than it is required to do under the Oslo Accords. Israel shares the mountain aquifer that runs through the West Bank with the Palestinians. But the Palestinians position is that they are entitled to all of it, not just their share.
The underlying problem of that discussion has always been the assumption that all of the territory is “Palestinian land’ to which Israel has no legitimate claim. But even if you think Israel ought to cede much of that territory if the Palestinians are ever willing to make peace, the problem with this argument is that the Arabs still don’t recognize Israeli rights to any water except the sea into which they have been trying to push the Jews ever since they began returning to their ancient homeland.
It might make sense for Israelis and Arabs to cooperate about water. But if water remains an issue that exacerbates the conflict rather than solving it, it’s not because the Israelis aren’t willing to share their expertise or even some of the water they are desalinizing or treating for further use. It’s because water, like economic development, has always been beside the point to Palestinians and other Arabs and Muslims.
Read it all.

Gee - where have I heard something like that before?

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