Concern over water supplies in the Middle East is likely to complicate new Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s efforts to make peace in the region. Water resources there are stretched to their limits, while the population continues to grow, and the region is now experiencing its driest spell in 50 years. For decades, Israel has been pumping 80 percent of the water from an aquifer located primarily under the occupied West Bank, while Palestinians have been prohibited from drilling any new wells themselves in the area and use much less water per capita. Worldwide, some 400 million people live in regions with severe water shortages, and within 50 years that number is expected to soar to 4 billion.

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