JNF plans to tackle water crisis

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JNF plans to tackle water crisis By Stuart Winer and Etgar Lefkovits

JERUSALEM (February 19) - The Jewish National Fund intends to build 100 new water reservoirs in Israel over the next five years.

The first five reservoirs should be built within one year.

"Of all the difficulties Israel is facing today, I am convinced that the water shortage is the most critical," said Ronald Lauder, president of the JNF in the United States. Despite the relatively heavy rainfall this year, experts predict Israel could run out of water by 2012, he said.

It made the commitment on Sunday, at the start of a four-day conference in Jerusalem to mark the organization's 100th anniversary.

A previous project, called the "JNF-Lauder Water Program," increased Israel's water supply by 6 percent.

"If you do not have water to irrigate the land, you desert the land," said JNF world co-chairman Shlomo Gravetz.

Reflecting on the JNF's concern over water, Gravetz said by adding water sources to an arid Israel, the JNF was keeping land under Jewish ownership that might otherwise be deserted.

Some 300 Jewish leaders from 31 countries throughout the world are to meet with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Shaul Mofaz, Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, ambassadors, and cabinet ministers.

Last night, the group hosted a gala celebration at Mercaz Shimshon in the Jerusalem. It was attended by Peres and world dignitaries, including US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer.

Since the its inception in 1901, the JNF has planted more than 220 million trees, built approximately 120 dams and reservoirs, and developed more than 1 million dunams of land and 400 parks throughout Israel.

Tomorrow, the Jewish leaders will tour the southern Arava and visit projects that were funded by donations from abroad. Among their destinations are the Center for Agricultural Research and Development, Hatzeva Reservoir, Sapir Park, and Timna Park.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), February 20, 2002

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