Cablegate: Middle East Multilateral Working Group On Water

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 46804

1. This is a joint message with Embassy Tel Aviv and ConGen

2. In separate events on March 4 and 5 in Tel Aviv, Gaza,
and Amman, representatives of Jordan, Israel, and the
Palestinian Authority signed the multilateral working group
"WaterNet" agreement that will create a shared electronic
database on regional water issues. The Israeli and Jordanian
signings took place "in the presence of" representatives of
Norway and the United States (reftel), while the Palestinian
signature was "confirmed" by Norwegian and American
representatives (see below).

3. At the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem
on March 4, Acting MFA Director General Yoav Biran signed the
agreement on behalf of the Government of Israel. Also
attending the signing for the GOI were Eviatar Maron, Deputy
Head of MFA's Middle East Division, and Yaacov Keidar,
Director of the Multilateral Coordination Department at the
MFA. Embassy Economic Counselor Ted Mann and Norwegian
Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Kari Bjornsgaard were present
and signed the document on behalf on of the United States and
Norway respectively. At the ceremony, Biran stated that
Israel's leadership was anxious to revive the multilateral
process. The signing of the WaterNet Agreement, he said, was
a good first step.

4. In the next step on the morning March 5, CESAR director
and Norwegian Foreign Ministry official Jon Marten Trondalen
carried the document to Gaza to be signed by Palestinian
Water Authority (PWA) Chairman Nabil Sharif "for the PLO for
the benefit of the Palestinian Authority." Trondalen then
carried the document to Jerusalem, where CG Econ Chief Ranz
and Jens Mjaugedal, the Deputy Representative of Norway to
the PA, "confirmed" the signature of the agreement (since
they were not physically present when Sharif signed in Gaza).

5. Finally, in the late afternoon of March 5, Jordanian
Minister of Water and Irrigation Hazim al-Naser signed for
Jordan in his office. Ambassador Gnehm and Norwegian
Ambassador Sverre Stub were present and signed the documents
on behalf of their governments. Also present were Jon
Martin Trondalen, Nazih Bandak of the Amman WaterNet office,
MWI Secretary General Said Bakri and Deputy SG Fayez
Bataineh, as well as economic counselor Goldberger and
regional environmental assistant Safadi. Minister Naser
expressed his hope that the government of Norway would
provide a long-term financing commitment for the project, but
otherwise expressed appreciation for Norway's contributions
to Jordan and the peace process. Trondalen said Lebanon and
Syria had also expressed an interest in joining WaterNet.
Ambassador Gnehm reiterated U.S. support for projects that
address critical needs like water management through
cooperation among the regional parties.

6. In all of the events, participants noted the critical
role played by Jon Martin Trondalen over many years in
bringing this agreement to fruition. Minister Naser also
noted that while he wanted to avoid publicity for this
signing, he hoped that a suitable public event would be the
planned opening of the Amman WaterNet office this summer.

7. Post will pouch the signed U.S. copy of the agreement to
NEA/RA - Lawson.

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