PRAGUE – The global financial crisis may be grabbing all the headlines, but resolving it should not be allowed to crowd out other vital issues. In the Middle East, for example, Israelis and Palestinians – as well as many others around the world – are beginning to believe that the permanent status negotiations to determine the future of Palestine are going nowhere.
The situation may be more promising than it appears, but one cannot deny that hope for real changes on the ground has faded since talks were re-launched two years ago. This loss of faith is, sadly, establishing a dynamic that will itself inhibit the concessions that are needed if a permanent agreement is to be found.
Because an impasse beckons, it is vitally important to work on those areas where intensive negotiations have the potential to produce quick results. Fresh water is one such area.
Across the Middle East, water is a security issue. Indeed, people are now recognizing two important facts. First, nations faced with conflicting claims to water have historically found ways to collaborate rather than to fight. Even during the 60 years of conflict in the Jordan Valley, water has more often been a source of cooperation than of conflict.