Former Water Negotiator Noah Kinarti Dies at 70

Noah Kinarti, one of Israel's leading water experts, passed away yesterday at the age of 70.

Among other positions, Kinarti served as a settlement adviser to Yitzhak Rabin during the latter's term as defense minister, and later as Israel's chief water negotiator.

Kinarti was born on Kibbutz Kinneret, a late son to two of its founding members, Shlomo and Hannah Kinarti. His brother Dan was killed in battle in 1948.

Noah Kinarti joined the paratroopers and served in both the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War as a reserves soldier.

He studied economics and was among the founders of the first water association in the Jordan Valley, becoming its director in 1980.

Kinarti played a central role in the dispute with the Jordanians over the waters of the Yarmouk River.

Speaking once to the journal of the Water Authority, he recalled how in 1979, after the Jordanians had dammed the river, he went down to the Yarmouk with a few friends.

"It took us 15 minutes to push large rocks into the river and block the water to the Jordanian state," Kinarti said. "We got yelled at by the prime minister later on, but we didn't care. We said we would not give up the water and that there was nothing wrong with what we'd done."

Some years later, Kinarti played an even more important role in negotiating the division of the Yarmouk waters in secret talks with Jordan.

Kinarti was among Yitzhak Rabin's closest associates, even during the latter's years of political wilderness. After being elected prime minister in 1992, Rabin appointed Kinarti as his defense ministry deputy for settlement, infrastructure and development.

Kinarti was later appointed to head the water negotiation teams for the Gaza-Jericho and interim agreements, and for the peace treaty with Jordan.

His son Gal told Haaretz that his father was a lifelong supporter of water production, who believed that by 2020 Israel would reach a water shortage requiring it to desalinate between 700 to 900 million cubic meters of water.

Noah Kinarti is survived by his wife, four children and seven grandchildren. Another son, Chen, was killed while in battle in Lebanon in 1994.