Monday, July 31, 2006

Qana and the Litani: Diversions

The Israeli Ministry of Government Affairs has published the full text of the "warning" leaflet dropped on southern Lebanon, including the town of Qana:

That's nothing if not explicit.

The website of the American University in Washington DC includes an Inventory of Conflict & Environment (ICE), for which - in November 1997 - Angela Joy Moss produced an admirably explicit analysis of the decades-old dispute about control of the Litani river:

Israel has considered diverting the Litani southward, first proposed in 1905 because it seemed "the waters of the Jordan basin would be insufficient for the future needs of Palestine."(14) The Litani, because of its water, was suggested to become part of the "national Jewish entity" in 1919 but this was rejected by the League of Nations, and the Litani became part of Lebanon.(15)

There were also prestatehood Jewish interests in the Litani. David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, suggested the inclusion of the Litani in the Jewish state. The 1941 international commission to whom this was suggested recommended seven-eighths of the Litani be "leased to Israel."(16) Ben-Gurion and Moshe Dayan advocated Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon and the Litani.(17)

In 1945, Professor Lowdermilk proposed a comprehensive water plan for the region which would have included changing the course of the Litani toward the Jordan and used its water for irrigation along the Jordan Valley and in central Eretz Israel (Palestine) where the electricity produced could be transferred to Lebanon. This was never implemented because the Arabs did not want to cooperate with Israel.(18) In 1947, Ben Gurion thought the Litani should be Israel's northern border. Also, water was a source of conflict in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.(19) In fact, in the war in 1967, water resources were "perhaps the prominent factor in Israeli strategic calculations."(20)

After the 1967 war, Moshe Dayan, defense minister, asserted Israel achieved "provisionally satisfying frontiers, with the exception of those with Lebanon."(21) Israel hoped that it would have use of the Litani by the mid 1980s, when it projected that it would have fully used up the waters captured in the 1967 war. Israel hoped to meet this goal by securing the Litani in 1978. Israel had even included the Litani in calculations of their water resources. (22)

In fact, Israel's need for water makes it conceivable that it may already be using the Litani. It is not recent that Israel has been suspected of planning to divert the waters of the Litani for its own use. Near 1994, this developed into a large number of direct accusations that Israel was using the Litani.(23)
- complete text here.
The War on Terror is a war for dwindling natural resources.

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