Cablegate: Exact Continues to Play a Vital Role in Fostering

DE RUEHAM #3230/01 2130638
R 010638Z AUG 07




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: EXACT Continues to Play a Vital Role in Fostering
Arab-Israeli Cooperation on Water

Sensitive but Unclassified. Not for internet distribution.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The USG organized a Steering Committee meeting of
the Regional Water Data Banks project (EXACT) July 15 - 16 at the
Dead Sea in Jordan. EXACT is a project initiated under the
Multilateral Peace Process Working Group on Water Resources. The
EXACT meeting brought Palestinian, Israeli and Jordanian water
officials together for the 24th time since the project started in
1995; officials and experts from the U.S., the UK, the EU, and the
Netherlands, whose governments all contribute expertise and
resources to project activities, also participated. For the first
time in more than one and one-half years, a Palestinian Water
Authority official participated in the meeting. In their executive
session, the Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian teams agreed on the
importance of continuing to work together on the project and
pursuing additional possible donors to support their various project
activities. The three core parties also agreed to meet again in
executive session in Jerusalem in a few weeks to follow up on
several action items. The U.S. continues to play a leading role in
working with the three core parties to help them develop their
Regional Water Training Initiative. END SUMMARY.

EXACT Activities Continue; PA Returns to the Table
--------------------------------------------- -----

2. (SBU) The Regional Water Data Banks Project (known by the
acronym EXACT, representing the name of its steering committee, the
EXecutive ACtion Team) consists of a portfolio of technical
activities undertaken by the core parties: experts from Israel,
Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority (PA). All the activities are
designed to build capacity and improve the parties' technical
capabilities to address a wide range of water issues. At the July
15-16 meeting, the donors, and the Israeli and Jordanian delegations
all welcomed the Palestinian Water Authority back to the project.
From the time that Hamas took control of the PA until the formation
of the Fayad-led PA, Palestinian participation was limited to
non-governmental Palestinian water experts and personnel from
President Abbas' office.

3. (SBU) Despite the difficult conditions under which all EXACT
members had been working since March 2006, project activities have
continued. The EU reported that it continued to work with the core
parties on developing a Decision Support System (a computer program
designed to help better manage water resources), carried out
training activities, and provided laboratory equipment to the core
parties. The EU delegation noted that its current activities will
end in mid-2008 and that it looked forward to working with the core
parties to develop a proposal for follow-on project activities. The
Dutch reported that they have continued to work with the core
parties to develop the water treatment and artificial recharge sites
in Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. The Dutch will
host a regional workshop in Jerusalem in September to discuss
results from the different sites. The Dutch delegation also
announced that it has extended its project activities through 2010.
The UK reported that it has continued to work with the parties to
define the pollution problems present at the project sites and
design appropriate mitigation approaches. The UK also noted that it
had just finished a very successful regional experts workshop in

4. (SBU) U.S. Chair NEA Senior Advisor for S&T Charles Lawson
reported that the U.S. has continued to work with the core parties
on their Regional Water Training Initiative. The U.S. sent a
three-person expert team to the region in February 2007 to help
assess the core parties' training needs and develop the outlines of
a work plan for the initiative. All the EXACT members welcomed the
expert team's paper as a good first step upon which to build the
initiative. The U.S. announced that it would organize a regional
workshop in the fall at which experts from the core parties and the
donors would develop the detailed initiative work plan. The U.S.
also reiterated its commitment to help support implementation of the
initiative by offering to support specific training courses once the
core parties finalized the work plan.

Reaching out to Potential Donors

5. (SBU) As they have done in the past, the core parties expressed
their great interest in bringing new donors into EXACT. Lawson
reported that, based on conversations he had had with Swedish
officials, Sweden was very interested in becoming a member of EXACT.
He noted that in order for the core parties to secure Swedish funds
that are available this year, they would have to submit a proposal
to the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) as soon as
possible. The core parties agreed to do so. Lawson also noted that
he had been contacted by an Italian NGO that was interested in
participating in EXACT activities. EXACT members agreed that
contact should be made through the Italian government, since EXACT
is a governmental group.

AMMAN 00003230 002 OF 002

6. (SBU) The core parties also noted their continued interest in
having Norway join EXACT. NOTE: Norway led several multilateral
water projects over the years. However, due to internal problems,
Norway stopped its participation several years ago. END NOTE.
Lawson noted that Norwegian officials continued to express interest
in re-engaging on regional water projects but that it was not clear
when Norway might make a final decision.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: The warm and collegial atmosphere that has
exemplified the working relationship among EXACT members over the
years was in clear evidence at the mid-July meeting. The Israeli,
Jordanian, and Palestinian EXACT members, as they have done since
the project started, demonstrated their continuing commitment to
working together on EXACT. The EXACT mechanism, and its focus on
technical issues, has provided a forum over the past 12 years for
continuous Arab-Israeli cooperation despite regional, political

8. U.S. Chair Lawson has cleared this message.

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