US supports tripartite talks to resolve Nile negotiations

Ethiopia began constructing the Grand Renaissance Dam, above, on the Blue Nile in 2012. Above, the dame during its diversion ceremony on May 28, 2013. (AFP)
Updated 07 October 2019

US supports tripartite talks to resolve Nile negotiations

  • Egypt urges mediation in ‘deadlocked’ Nile dam talks

CAIRO: Cairo said negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam are deadlocked after meetings between ministers from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia ended on Saturday.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry called for a new mediator in the negotiations. The US announced its support for the tripartite talks to reach an agreement on filling and operating the dam.

“All Nile Valley countries have a right to economic development and prosperity,” the US said, urging “all sides to put forth good faith efforts to reach an agreement that preserves those rights, while simultaneously respecting each other’s Nile water equities.” Ethiopia has rejected Egyptian proposals for greater equity of Nile water.

Nader Nour El-Din, an Egyptian water expert and professor of water resources at Cairo University, said the wording of the US statement was carefully crafted so as to appeal to all parties. 

He added that it never clearly mentions respecting international water-distribution agreements, but rather “respecting each other’s Nile water equities.”

He said Nile water is a matter of national security, and President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi will never allow any harm to Egypt’s water rights.

Nour El-Din added that Ethiopia wants to impose absolute sovereignty in administrating Blue Nile waters by constructing the biggest dam in Africa.

HIGHLIGHT

• The US announced its support for the tripartite talks to reach an agreement on filling and operating the dam

Ahmed El-Shennawy, a former UN dam expert, said Egypt might choose to internationalize the issue, which might deprive Ethiopia of international funding or operation and supply contracts with European countries. 

He said the dam was constructed on land that is not fit for such a huge structure. He warned that the dam may collapse at any time, which might cause parts of Egypt and Sudan to be submerged.

Dr. Deyaa El-Qousy, former adviser to Egypt’s irrigation minister, said declaring the talks a failure signifies the start of a new phase, from seeking mediation to international arbitration. 

He added that Egypt’s only options are negotiations and internationalization of the issue, and that military solutions are not an option.

El-Qousy said a mediator might not necessarily be a country; it could be an international organization such as the World Bank. 

He added that the African Union could play a role in this “thorny” issue, and that Egypt and its Arab and African allies could exercise huge pressure.

Khartoum hosted the Egyptian and Ethiopian irrigation ministers, as well as scientific committees from both countries, to study Egyptian and Sudanese proposals, but Ethiopia rejected them. Egypt rejects any decrease in its quota of Nile water as a result of the dam’s construction.


Palestinians: Israeli settlers torch cars in West Bank

Updated 22 November 2019

Palestinians: Israeli settlers torch cars in West Bank

  • Hard-line settlers have been known to carry out “price tag” attacks in response to Palestinian militant attacks or perceived efforts by Israeli authorities to limit settlement expansion
  • The Palestinians claim the West Bank as part of their future state

RAMALLAH, West Bank: Israeli settlers attacked five villages in the occupied West Bank overnight, torching vehicles and olive trees, and leaving graffiti on the walls of homes, Palestinian officials said Friday.
Ghassan Daghlas, a spokesman for the Nablus governorate, said the Jewish settlers set fire to five cars and spray-painted graffiti on more than 20 others. Villagers circulated photos of the damage on social media.
Israeli police say they are investigating the reports and that police and military units will visit the area.
Hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers live in the West Bank, which Israel occupied in the 1967 Mideast War. The Palestinians claim the West Bank as part of their future state.
Hard-line settlers have been known to carry out “price tag” attacks in response to Palestinian militant attacks or perceived efforts by Israeli authorities to limit settlement expansion. It was unclear what sparked the latest attack.
In the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, Palestinian health authorities said a man died of wounds he sustained in an Israeli airstrike earlier this month that killed eight members of his family. The Gaza Health Ministry identified the man as 40-year-old Mohammed Abu Malhous.
Those killed in the airstrike included two women and five children under the age of 13.
Israel’s military said it was targeting “Islamic Jihad military infrastructure” and did not expect civilians to be present. It said an investigation is underway.
The airstrike came during two days of fighting ignited by Israel’s targeted killing of a commander of the Islamic Jihad militant group. The fighting killed 35 Palestinians and more than 450 rockets were fired into Israel.