Newsletter : 9fax0319.txt
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>JN March 19, 1999, Vol. 7, No. 55
Bezeq Weighs One Nationwide Dialing Zone
The Bezeq Phone Company is weighing the possibility of changing the
entire country to one dialing zone in which calls will cost the
same locally as they will for one calling from Eilat to the Golan
Heights. The calls will be charged by duration. It appears likely
that Bezek will ask the Knesset Finance Committee to approve the
change in rates at next week's planned session dealing with phone
MDA Refused Blood Donation from Ethiopian Soldier
A female soldier of Ethiopian background claims that a Magen David
Adom (MDA) blood donation team refused to allow her to donate blood
because of her being Ethiopian.
An investigation into the claim by the Ministry of Health concluded
that the matter was caused by a chain of misunderstandings. The MDA
technician apologized to the soldier, and the MDA bloodmobile was
sent to her army base to personally take her blood donation.
The incident took place last week when the MDA bloodmobile arrived
at an IDF base as part of a blood drive. The soldier claimed that
the team refused to take her blood, in defiance of Health Ministry
regulations that blood donations are to be accepted from anyone
desiring to donate.
Health Ministry regulations stipulate that blood donations from
Ethiopians be frozen for half a year, and that if a second donation
is shown free of the AIDS virus, the first donation is considered
usable and the second donation is frozen for half a year.
Deputy-director of the Ministry of Health Dr. Boaz Lev stated that
anyone wanting to donate blood can do so, without prejudice. In
respect for the Ethiopian community, much money was invested for
the blood freezing system.
Sharing of Water Leads to Israeli-Jordanian Dispute
By Scott Bobb (VOA-Cairo)
A dispute has erupted between Jordan and Israel over water
resources. Under a peace treaty between the two countries, Israel
is to give Jordan 55-million cubic meters of water a year. But the
Israeli government recently said that because of severe drought in
the region, it will cut this allotment by half. The announcement is
causing an uproar in Jordan which last year experienced a water
shortage so severe that it eventually toppled the prime minister.
The prospect of a summer with severe water rationing is unsettling
people in Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. But
water experts in both Jordan and Israel say political bickering
will not solve the problem. Rather, they say certain pragmatic
steps will be necessary in order to minimize shortages that are
expected to peak in the coming months.
A professor of hydro-geology at Jordan University, Elias Salameh,
says Jordan is already experiencing a 10 percent shortage of water.
He says the cuts announced by the Israeli government will double
A professor of environmental sciences at Hebrew University in
Jerusalem, Hillal Shuval, says the entire region is experiencing
the worst drought in decades. He says the Jordan River and Lake
Tiberius have received less than half the normal water from
rainfall. And as a result, the Israeli government is telling
Israeli farmers to expect at least a 25 percent reduction in
water for irrigation.
Salameh says if a water crisis is to be avoided in Jordan's urban
areas, the government will also have to reduce the water allocated
for farming. Shuval of Hebrew University says chronic drought means
governments have to change the way they allocate the region's
fresh water resources.
The experts note that this policy has negative effects. It
antagonizes powerful farming groups. It threatens jobs. And it
weakens government efforts to reduce food imports. Analysts say, in
fact, certain groups in both countries are aggravating the fears of
water shortages in order to advance their interests.
They say the farmers want to keep cheap rainwater for agriculture
rather than pay extra for desalinated water from the sea. They say
business interests are exaggerating the crisis in order to win
lucrative contracts to build desalinization plants. And they say
some political groups in Israel are using the water shortage to
press the government to retain control over the West Bank and Golan
Heights, which are important sources of fresh water to the region.
Nevertheless, Prof. Salameh of Jordan University says chronic
drought and rising populations will oblige governments in the
region to accept the fact that in the future irrigated agriculture
can no longer be a mainstay of their economies. "Jordan, not
only Jordan, but all the Middle East countries affected by water
scarcity, should look into restructuring their economies from
depending on irrigated agriculture to other economic branches, like
industrialization or maybe tourism or trade, or something else."
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