Green-Cross program “Water for Peace” supports study for solving water conflicts:
Access to water is one of the main reasons for the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The mediation project “Water for Peace in the Middle East” is striving to conduct a study about the needs for and availability of water. To this end, the Peres Center for Peace, Green Cross France and Green Cross Switzerland are holding the conference in Geneva from 2 to 4 May 2008. Approximately 30 experts from Israel, Palestine, Europe and USA will conduct a joint analysis of water needs and water availability of today and tomorrow for decision makers on the basis of generally accepted guidelines.
The study will serve as an exemplary model at an international conference of UNESCO in Paris in November 2008 on the topic of preventing and solving water conflicts. The key for solving regional water conflicts lies in finding a solution for managing water in line with needs. Previous studies and deliberations focused on the existing inequitable water distribution on the basis of current consumption patterns and resource analyses.
The current study, on the other hand, assesses the water needs of Israelis and Palestinians in the region for the first time. It addresses the areas of basic domestic needs as well as the need for social and economic development. “This study makes a solidly based discussion in line with reality possible about the sharing of water between Palestine and Israel, so that the needs of both sides can be met,” Nidal Salim explained, President of The Geneva Institute for Water, Environment and Health GIWEH. In addition, proposals will be discussed about how the scarce resource of water can be used better by both sides. Oren Blonder, Soil and Water Agronomist from The Peres Center for Peace, emphasized: “This new approach to water management will hopefully advance solutions for water supply to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza on the basis of a new assessment of needs.”
For the first time, Palestinian and Israeli experts are working together on a water requirements study, and policy decision-makers are awaiting the results with interest. The study has the personal support of Shimon Peres, President of Israel, Ehud Olmert, Israeli Minister President and Fadel Ka’wash, former chairman of the Palestinian Water Authority PWA. As explained by Alexander Likhotal, President of Green Cross International, there is room for hope: “Conflicts may be inevitable; wars are not. Our ability to prevent water wars will depend on our collective capacity to anticipate tensions, and to find the technical and institutional solutions to manage emerging conflicts. The good news is that such solutions exist, and are everyday proving their efficiency. “
Green Cross International with headquarters in Geneva was founded by the former President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, in 1993. The organization is composed of a network of 30 affiliate organizations, which work to support peace and security as well as solve problems of poverty and the environment. The global involvement of Green Cross in the water program works on the highest decision-making levels to prevent conflicts, which result from the scarcity of water. Within the framework of local projects, Green Cross concerns itself with preserving this vital resource.