At the 1919 Paris Peace Conference ending World War I, David Ben-Gurion and Chaim Weizmann practiced an aggressive “grab-the-water” policy. Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of an independent Israel, and Weizmann, Israel’s first president, presented a map of the hoped-for Israel containing all of the Jordan River, with tributaries, and all of the Litani River, which flows entirely within Lebanon.
Ben-Gurion and Weizmann were successes in the political world, but they failed to get the Litani because, in the secret 1915 Sykes-Picot Treaty, Britain and France had already agreed that it should go to France (the mandate power in Lebanon).
In 1953 President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Eric Johnson, head of the Motion Picture Association of America, to go to the Middle East to divide the waters of the Jordan between Israel and the Arabs. The pro-Israel Johnson did not succeed in getting an agreement, but he eventually did learn that Israel’s “grab-the-water” policy made it claim more cusics (cubic meters of water per second) of Jordan waters than its total flow. It achieved this legerdemain simply: it included the flow of the Litani.
In 1963, when Israel completed its “grab-the-water” national water carrier, it diverted outside its channel all but a dribble of the Jordan’s water from the Sea of Galilee into southern Israel. Jordan diverted a tiny amount of water from the Yarmouk River, just south of Galilee, to irrigate its East Ghor Canal Project.
In 1967 Israel conquered the West Bank and set forth with a vengeance its policy of “grab-the-water.” Palestinians in the West Bank could drill no wells and Israel took control of all the aquifers.
In 2007 talk of building a Red Sea-Dead Sea pipeline bore fruit. According to Vasid Alavian, United Nations water adviser for the Middle East and North Africa, “donor countries,” which now include the United States, have put up the $15 million cost of a feasibility study for a Dead Sea-Red Sea canal.
Alavian, who had just returned to his Washington office from a trip to Amman/Ramallah/the Dead Sea, said a contract for the study would be awarded in December 2007, to be completed within 18 months.
Israel’s “grab-the-water” policy is emptying the Dead Sea, causing its water level to fall by a meter per year. The forthcoming study is likely to recommend that the canal be built, at an anticipated cost of $3 billion to $5 billion. Israel will have its hand out (to the U.S., of course) to prevent the sea from drying up.
Is it too early to predict yet another successful Israeli raid on the rapidly emptying American treasury?