A water crisis on the way for Middle East

Campaigners and politicians take a dip to make their point about water shortages

Campaigners and politicians take a dip to make their point about water shortages

Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian environmentalists have warned that the region will face a water crisis unless there is more co-operation between the three countries.

At a New Israel Fund (NIF) event in London, Friends of the Earth (FoE) Palestine director Nader Khateeb, Israel director Gidon Bromberg and Jordanian director Munqeth Mehyar proposed a trans-national water committee for the area. They also called for increased water access for Palestinians and for governments to push for changes in the way water is consumed. Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories share key water repositories including the Jordan River, the Dead Sea and the Mountain and Coastal Aquifers.

NIF is supporting FoE's efforts to boost the levels of the lower Jordan River, which has lost 90 per cent of its annual flow since Israel, Jordan and Syria dammed and diverted nearly all of its feeder tributaries. The Dead Sea is dropping by one metre each year.

The Mountain Aquifer is one of the most significant sources of water for West Bank Palestinians and for Israelis, but has been dangerously overexploited. Parts of it are also contaminated by sewage and rubbish.

Mr Khateeb said: "There is a great need for more cross-border co-operation. Our leaders must realise this is a meaningful way to benefit our own countries, as well as being a way to help our neighbours."

    Last updated: 12:17pm, March 31 2011