Netanyahu Offers Israeli Help to Drought-Stricken California

Wednesday, 05 Mar 2014 08:11 PM

By Greg Richter

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed a technology cooperation deal with California Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday and kicked things off by promising to help California deal with its devastating drought.

"We can help California solve the water problem," Netanyahu said later in an interview with Fox Business Network's "The Willis Report."

Israel today has no water problems, Netanyahu said, because, "We solved them."

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The Mideast country today has half the rainfall and 10 times the population it did when founded 65 years ago, Netanyahu noted. Its only source of non-salt water is Lake Kinneret (the Biblical Sea of Galilee) – which is shrinking annually.

But Israel is the world's No. 1 recycler of wastewater and uses drip irrigation and desalinization techniques. Brown said he hoped Israel would share its knowledge with his state, Reuters reported.

Netanyahu called Israel and California "two great hubs of creativity" in his Fox Business interview, adding that "if they work even more closely together, [they] could produce unimaginable fruits of innovation."

There already are 50,000-80,000 Israeli technologists and entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley who "fly back and forth" between the two countries, Netanyahu said. He asked Brown for help getting direct flights between Tel Aviv and San Francisco.

While in California, Netanyahu also met with Apple CEO Tim Cook and Jan Koum, co-founder of the messaging app firm WhatsApp. Koum is a Jewish Ukrainian immigrant, and Netanyahu said Koum told him he got the idea for WhatsApp while visiting Jerusalem.

Netanyahu said the California "memorandum of understanding" might extend to other areas of the United States with strong technology sectors, such as New York's "Silicon Alley," Austin, Texas and Boston.

Israel, he said, is the "most powerful per capita producer of conceptual products on the planet," and they want to share that knowledge "with our neighbors."

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