Water squabbles

CLOSE on the heels of the bitter land wars in the West Asia comes the bitter conflict over water. Israel and the West Bank Palestinians are at odds over scarce water; its Arab neighbours - Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria all contend that they have considerable legal rights to the water now controlled by Israel; Jordan and Syria accuse each other of stealing from a border river; and Turkey is under fire for hijacking water from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Water occupation is even more precious than land in this desert region. With an election year ahead, the Israeli government has bowed to political pressure and increased the subsidised water available for irrigation, much to the anger of the Palestinies who see their underground water wealth being drained away.

Last fortnight, as part of the West Asia peace process, talks on sharing water resources began in Vienna. Discussion is further complicated as there is no binding international law on these matters. But the outcome, if any, will help many other countries, including India, to deal with their own contentious water issues.

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