UNITED NATIONS: Troubled Waters

The most critical natural resource in the arid Middle East is water. Israel needs water to support a population doubled in the past five years. The Arab states need it to settle and feed 900,000 Palestine refugees. But there is not enough for both. Today, only 5% of the Middle East's land is cultivated; the rest thirsts. Meanwhile, the Jordan River, which meanders part of its course between Israel and Jordan, wastefully pours 44 billion cu.ft. of fresh water annually into the salty Dead Sea.

Last September the thirsty, aggressive Israelis struck out for water. They moved bulldozers north to...

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