UAE-Israel accord creates ‘new environment’ for Mideast peace: Official

UAE-Israel accord creates ‘new environment’ for Mideast peace: Official
US President Donald Trump said he will host a similar peace-signing ceremony this week at the White House between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain, which also announced an agreement with Israel. (AFP)
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Updated 15 September 2020

UAE-Israel accord creates ‘new environment’ for Mideast peace: Official

UAE-Israel accord creates ‘new environment’ for Mideast peace: Official
  • The UAE remains committed to the interests of the Palestinians and to the two-state solution.

CHICAGO: The historic accord between the UAE and Israel, which will be signed this week at the White House, will create a “new environment” to achieve peace, the director of policy planning at the Emirati Foreign Ministry told Arab News on Monday.

The UAE remains committed to the interests of the Palestinians and to the two-state solution, said Jamal Al-Musharakh, adding that peace between Israelis and Palestinians is achievable.

“We haven’t abandoned the Palestinians,” he said. “With the involvement of the US in this peace process, conversations can be more honest. Opportunities and differences can be discussed. This is the point of dialogue — that we can really get past previous lack of clarity.”

The entire region will benefit from the UAE-Israel accord.

“There’s much optimism and hope in this agreement,” Al-Musharakh said. “It’s a strategic shift. The deal provides a more optimistic view of the future, and will result in benefits for all in the region, including the Palestinians. But the Palestinians need to engage in the peace process themselves.”

The foundation of the accord is based on “optimism and hope,” he added. “The region needs hope. It has been through much turmoil and despair.”
 

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The accord “offers an opportunity for the Palestinians and the people of the Middle East to be able to look past previous pessimism and to have a more optimistic future,” he said.

The accord “will stand all challenges,” he said, adding that the UAE pursued it at the urging of leaders from the Middle East and the international community.

“The international community was concerned about Israel annexing Palestinian lands,” he said. “There was a lot of outreach to us to use our diplomatic efforts to reach a point that would preserve the two-state solution and thus halt annexation.”

The UAE-Israel deal comes 27 years almost to the day after Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat shook hands on Sept. 13, 1993, at the White House.

US President Donald Trump said he will host a similar peace-signing ceremony this week at the White House between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain, which also announced an agreement with Israel.

Al-Musharakh said he could not provide details of the signing, but emphasized that the UAE-Israel accord “creates an environment in the Middle East in which a genuine peace can be achieved.”

He added: “The UAE is home to over 200 nationalities. We expect to advance areas of education, health, business and the needs of the people, not just in the UAE but also in the region. This agreement is about the region.”

The UAE celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and will host the global mega-event Expo 2020 Dubai, the opening of which has been delayed until next year due to the coronavirus pandemic, he said.

Expo officials said the new opening date is Oct. 1, 2021, and it will continue through March 2022. “Israel will be a part of Expo 2020, and we look forward to it,” Al-Musharakh said.

In announcing the Expo, the UAE has promised to focus on a collective desire for new thinking to identify solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time. The peace accord comes as a result of that spirited thinking, he added.

“The accord has been met with broad international support. There’s clear recognition of our aim to safeguard the two-state solution and advance general prosperity,” he said.

“The message remains a hopeful one. The end solution lies in the hands of the Palestinians and Israelis themselves,” Al-Musharakh added.

“The UAE is committed, and always will be committed, to our longstanding commitment to the Palestinian people in advancing peace-making efforts to the region’s benefit,” he said.

“We’ll never abandon the Palestinians. They’re important and we support their rights. We stand by the two-state solution. We’re committed to Arab decisions about the Palestinians.”

The normalization of relations between the UAE and Israel is a historic step for progress in the region, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed meanwhile said, in a report from news channel Al-Arabiya on Tuesday.

The progress in establishing the Palestinian state is vital at this stage inasmuch as the agreement, which is about to be signed at the White House, stopped Israeli annexation activities in the West Bank, he added.

The White House said in a statement: “The Arab world is experiencing the most rapid geopolitical transformation in more than a generation.”

It added: “As more countries normalize relations with Israel, the region is becoming more stable, secure, and prosperous. Expanded business and financial ties between economies will accelerate growth and economic opportunity across the region. The United States will continue to stand with the people of the region as they work to build a brighter, more hopeful future.”


Turkey risks water scarcity with historically low rainfall

Turkey risks water scarcity with historically low rainfall
Updated 45 min 7 sec ago

Turkey risks water scarcity with historically low rainfall

Turkey risks water scarcity with historically low rainfall
  • Urban planning mismanagement and a record low rainfall are considered to be the main reasons for water scarcity in Istanbul
  • Turkey, with its semi-arid climate, is considered water-stressed as it produces only 1,346 cubic meters of water per capita per year

ANKARA: Media reports that Istanbul could run out of water in 45 days have been denied by an official from the city’s municipal authority.

Urban planning mismanagement and a record low rainfall are considered to be the main reasons for water scarcity in the city of 17 million people.

The water levels in the main dam that provides Istanbul with water are at their lowest since the last decade and, for the last three years, the water levels of the dams in Istanbul have decreased fourfold.

The Telegraph was among the media outlets reporting that the city was running out of water.

But a municipal official from the relevant authority denied the report. The official, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Arab News that one-third of the dams were currently full and that the city’s reserves had been full since Jan. 9.

Turkey, which has already faced several droughts in the last four decades with its semi-arid climate, is considered water-stressed as it produces only 1,346 cubic meters of water per capita per year.

Dr. Akgun Ilhan, a water management expert from the Istanbul Policy Centre, said the current situation had arisen largely because of a lack of adaptation to climate change. “It is true that we receive less precipitation but on top of that we also make poor use of the water falling on cities,” she told Arab News. “The average public water loss throughout the country is 43 percent due to old and inefficient water infrastructures, which lead to the loss of almost half of the water before it reaches the taps at home.”

The natural forests of the city stretching between the Black Sea and Marmara coasts as well as several rivers and wetlands, which were producing the city’s drinking water, have been destroyed due to the construction of controversial megaprojects.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plan to build a huge artificial waterway linking the Black Sea and Marmara Sea, known as Kanal Istanbul, also sparked concerns among environmentalists. The project puts the city’s freshwater resources at risk by exposing the nearby reservoirs to salinization as it runs too close to a lake that has been providing water to the city since the Roman period.

Ilhan said that Turkey, despite having entered the 21st century, was still continuing with the 20th century’s old water management paradigm by creating more water supply as long as there is more water demand.

“Many metropolitans in Turkey now face drought. The most sustainable strategy in the age of climate change is to reduce water demand instead of increasing the water supply through building more water infrastructures.”

Turkey has built hundreds of dams over the last two decades.

Ankara has enough water for 110 days, with dam occupancy being reduced to 20 percent. Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavas recently suggested introducing tariffs on the use of water as a disincentive.

According to the information provided to Arab News by the municipality’s authority on water management, the impact of the ongoing snowfall on the city’s water levels would only be felt in the spring as the dams that provided the city with water were in the suburbs and required time to transfer the underground water to the city center.

The capital’s water needs remain acute. In the western province of Izmir the main dam of the city has depleted to 36 percent.

Ilhan explained that one way of managing the problem was to oblige local authorities to reduce the 43 percent water loss to a more acceptable level through legal instruments and economic incentives.

“At the same time, local authorities can make greywater reuse and rain harvesting technologies obligatory for the new constructions in the cities. Local governments should also improve urban green areas management for fixing the already damaged water cycle. Citizens should also reduce their water consumption by changing their consuming habits. Everything we buy has a water footprint. The more we buy things, the larger water footprint we create.”