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Pt 2: Dr. Nasser al-Shaer - Hamas leader in West Bank - He gathers with the relatives, the kids are clamouring, Al-Jazeera's in the background - it could be any Palestinian family in the West Bank. But we're in the home of Nasser al-Shaer's extended family and he's not just anyone. He's the former deputy Prime Minister in the Palestinian Authority and one of the highest ranking Hamas officials in the West Bank. That's right Hamas, the party Canada and many other governments calls a terrorist organization.
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Pt 3: Desalination Tour - It's rained a lot in the week I've been here. But that's not going to make up for the fact that Israel is in the middle of its fourth straight year of drought ... one of the worst dry spells in the country's history. The effects of that drought are everywhere.
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It's Tuesday, March 3rd.
A military investigation found that Canadian soldiers are not responsible for a bomb blast that killed three children in Afghanistan last week.
Currently, investigators underscored their conclusion arguing that people don't kill people. Bombs kill people.
This is the Current.
It was June of 2006, when Palestinians claiming to be with the Army of Islam, dug a tunnel under the border between the Gaza strip and Israel, burrowing right under and then past an Israeli observation tower and then doubling back to ambush the soldiers on watch. In this struggle, two Palestinian kidnappers were killed, two Israeli soldiers were killed. An Israeli Corporal Gilad Shilit was taken hostage and bundled over to the other side.
The efforts to get him home are now part of the wider negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian Officials. And his on-going fate is front and centre across Israel. Posters saying "Bring Him Home" are on the walls. Newspapers keep a tally of the number of days he's been missing and every young soldier in this place, and everyone else we speak to says they can't stop thinking about him. We heard from some of the locals with their thoughts.
Gilad Shalit's father, Noam Shalit is a quiet businessman from Northern Israel who says he never cared much for politics. But now he's been thrust into the centre of Israel's political turmoil, he's lobbying to get his son out in a way he never expected or wanted. Anna Maria spoke with Noam Shalit in Tel Aviv.
Dr. Nasser al-Shaer - Hamas leader in West Bank
He gathers with the relatives, the kids are clamouring, Al-Jazeera's in the background - it could be any Palestinian family in the West Bank. But we're in the home of Nasser al-Shaer's extended family and he's not just anyone. He's the former deputy Prime Minister in the Palestinian Authority and one of the highest ranking Hamas officials in the West Bank. That's right Hamas, the party Canada and many other governments calls a terrorist organization.
But as Anna Maria sat down to speak with him in a village outside of Nablus, he was already thinking about Monday's meeting in Egypt and the tug-of-war over who will help the people of Gaza.
Prime Minister Salam Fayyad
To get from that village outside Nablus to what is now considered the Palestinian capital in the West Bank, Ramallah we have to pass through major Israeli checkpoints.
Outside the Prime Minister's building, two guards slouch, machine guns on their laps, radio whining in the background, we wander past to meet Salam Fayyad. He's neither Hamas nor Fatah, he's with a third way party which gets almost no popular support. But he's a formal official with the International Monetary Fund and a buddy of the former Bush Administration and he's got his own ideas on how to spend that money that so many pledged to Gaza in Egypt yesterday.
Salam Fayyad is Prime Minister in the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
We attempted to interview an official of equivalent status in Israel but were thwarted by the fact that the dominant Likud party is still trying to work out a governing coalition.
Butros Butros-Ghali Promo
It is our Watershed series that brought us to the Middle East where water can be both a source of conflict and co-operation. It's not as if they've just noticed this, in the early 90's as he was taking the helm of the United Nations, Butros Butros-Ghali was already splashing about warning of water woes. We aired a clip of the former UN Secretary General and you can hear the full conversation on his water concerns next week on the Current.
It's rained a lot in the week I've been here. But that's not going to make up for the fact that Israel is in the middle of its fourth straight year of drought ... one of the worst dry spells in the country's history. The effects of that drought are everywhere.
But one of the most striking - is the fact that the Sea of Galilee -- which is actually a fresh-water lake -- is shrinking rapidly. So Israeli authorities are desperate to find new sources of water for the country's seven million inhabitants. And one of the more promising options is desalination ... the process of removing the salt from seawater.
We aired a clip of Avner Hermony. He's the Plant Manager at the Palmachim Desalination Laboratory near Haifa. It's Israel's second biggest desalination plant. The biggest is in Ashkelon. But it's off-limits because of its proximity to Gaza. So we asked Avner Hermony to take us on a tour of Palmachim and tell us about desalination.
Desalination Debate - Panel
But not everyone in Israel is excited about the idea of desalination. Gidon Bromberg is the Israel director of Friends of the Earth Middle East, an environmental organization dedicated to water issues in the region. He was in Washington, this morning.
And Mark Zeitoun teaches environmental policy and politics at the School of Development Studies at the University of East Anglia. He has worked as a water engineer on humanitarian assignments in Lebanon, Congo-Brazzaville, Chad, Iraq and the Palestinian territories. He is also the author of Power and Water in the Middle East: The Hidden Politics of the Palestinian-Israeli Water Conflict. And he was in Norwich England this morning.
Last Word - Israel Eurovision
We wanted to end the program today with a story that's big news here in Jerusalem this morning. Last night, Israelis voted for the song that will represent their country at the upcoming Eurovision Song contest. That's the pop music competition known for cheesy techno beats and catchy hooks. But this year, the competition became very political here in Israel.
Back in December the Israeli Broadcasting Authority selected an Israeli singer and peace activist named Achinoam Nini to represent the country. She's better known as "Noa" and she decided to team up with a Palestinian actress and singer named Mira Awad to sing a duet. It will be the first time a Palestinian will represent Israel in the competition. And artists and activists -- both Israeli and Palestinian -- have protested, some calling the performance "propaganda."
Nonetheless, thousands of Israelis voted last night. And as a result, the duo will sing the song Your Eyes with its chorus "There must be another way." We ended with this song.