Mideast environmentalists pledge to work together

Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian environmentalists pledged Tuesday to work together to overcome their countries' differences and try to resolve the region's controversial water problem. The pledge came during a conference of Nobel laureates that Jordan's King Abdullah II sponsored in the ancient Nabatean city of Petra. Earlier, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with Abdullah at the conference and the two later held political talks in the Jordanian port city of Aqaba. Abdullah addressed the Nobel Laureates gathering and urged inter-border cooperation in solving the Mideast's common problems, including economic development, the environment and health. Gidon Bromberg, Israeli director of the Friends of the Earth-Middle East, warned that "if we don't start working together to protect our common water resources from pollution or start turning those water resources into opportunities for employment and sustainable welfare, then we are going to continue seeing the disaster we are presently witnessing." Palestinian Friends of the Earth director Nader al-Khatib said both he and his Israeli colleague are educating their young people in schools how to conserve water, recycle the precious commodity and protect it. "This environment knows no boundaries, unless we work together, we can't save it," al-Khatib said. Some environmentalists blame the decreasing waters on the exploitation of fresh water from the Sea of Galilee and Syria's Yarmouk River further north. Farmers in Jordan's Ghor Valley, adjacent to the river are also believed to be drawing down the river's reserves.