Ferragina, Eugenia. "The Effect of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict on the
Water Resources of the Jordan River Basin." Global Environment 2 (2008):
nonprofit educational purposes only, courtesy of Gabriella Corona, Consiglio
Nazionale delle Ricerche / National Research Council of Italy (CNR), and XL
environmental change or the depletion of
natural resources, are turning into strategic
issues, capable of inl uencing international
peace and security.
security and the environment comes to the
fore wherever a struggle for the control
of natural resources aggravates conl ictual
situations or, conversely, a conl ict causes
on Water Resources
in the Jordan River Basin
the destruction of natural resources; or, again, when the increasing
frequency of extreme climatic events determines migrations of so-
called “environmental refugees”, and lead communities to compete
for the two fundamental resources for survival: land and water. In
1993, Myers indicated environmental degradation as a potential risk
for international peace and security, although he did not regard it as
the exclusive cause of political instability.
National security is no longer about i ghting forces and weaponry alone. It
relates to water-sheds, croplands, forests, genetic resources, climate and other
factors rarely considered by military experts and political leaders, but that
taken together deserve to be viewed as equally crucial to a nation’s security as
An emblematic case of the connection between security and the
Here we i nd both competition for land and water – the one
inseparable from the other – and the devastating ef ects of prolonged
conl ict on the environment and natural resources. A historical
reconstruction of the water dispute in the Middle East shows that
a situation of prolonged political instability has led Israel to follow
a politics of appropriation of the main surface and underground
resources of the Jordan basin. h
is politics, aimed at guaranteeing
the country’s hydraulic security in a hostile regional context, has
legitimized a race for the exploitation of water resources among the
other countries along the lower course of the Jordan (Jordan and the
Palestinian Territories); a race that has shoved into the background
the issue of saving and protecting water resources.
Today, the ef ects of global problems such as climatic change tend
to be amplii ed at the regional scale. h
is is because the ancient war
for water now takes place within an environmental context subjected
to strong anthropic pressure and gradual parching of the soil. Water
B. Buzan, O. Waever, J. Wilde, Security. A New Framework for Analysis, Lon-
N. Myers, Ultimate Security. h
Norton, New York, 1996.
thus becomes a strategic bone of contention, capable of inluencing
peace and regional securities.
hus, the connection between security and the environment is
increasingly inluenced by current global dynamics; a challenge that
would call for an environmental management at the global scale that
our weak international institutions are incapable of providing. We
hear many declarations of principles, but there is no consensus on
the strategies to be followed to face environmental crises and their
political and economic efects.
The water of discord
he environmental context of the geopolitics of water in the
Middle East – that is, the political rivalry between the countries of
the Jordan basin as regards the parceling out of the river’s water and
the exploitation of underground hydrogeological resources – is one
of aridity and scarce precipitation resulting in low-low and highly
he Jordan basin extends from Mount Hermon in the north to
the Dead Sea in the south. It lies within the territories of ive states:
Syria, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and Jordan. I will mainly focus,
however, on the countries along the lower course of the Jordan, viz.,
Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Territories of Gaza and West Bank,
which appear to be more dependent on the water of the Jordan river
and more exposed to water scarcity.
he Jordan originates from the slopes of Mount Hermon. It
receives three tributaries along its upper course: the Hasbani, the
Dan, and the Banyas. he river then runs across northern Israel,
through Lake Tiberias, and then southward. About 6.5 kilometers
from Lake Tiberias it receives its main tributary, the Yarmuk, which
marks the boundary between Syria and Jordan and then that between
Israel and Jordan. Immediately after its conluence with the Yarmuk,
the Jordan runs in its homonymous valley for about 110 kilometers.
his stretch marks the boundary between Jordan and Israel, and then
that between Jordan and West Bank. he river inally lows into the
Dead Sea, over 400 meters below sea level. he low of the Jordan is
subject to frequent seasonal and interannual variations. It is about
1500 millions of cubic meters per year, so a mere 2% of that of the
Nile and 6% of that of the Euphrates (Fig. 1).
e dispute over the Jordan basin waters precedes the Arab-
the birth of the state of Israel, especially since 1953, when Israel
began the construction of the “National Water Carrier”. h
aqueduct, destined to convey the waters of the Jordan stored in Lake
Tiberias along the Mediterranean coast all the way to the distant
and arid Negev, diverts the course of the river outside of its basin,
de facto snatching it from the control of the other countries of the
basin (Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan).
As the United States gradually came to the fore as a hegemonic
solutions for the main regional strategic issues. Realizing the conl ict
potential inherent in the question of control of water resources, they
sought to act as mediators. h
e Johnston plan, presented in 1955
by an envoy of President Eisenhower, was the result of a careful
hydrological analysis and an accurate negotiation work in which the
chancelleries of all the countries of the basin were involved. h
proposed an allocation of the water of the Jordan and its tributaries
taking account both of the available water and of the supplements
required to meet the water needs of all the regional actors involved.
e Johnston plan eventually failed, essentially for political
inl ow of diaspora Jews. h
e Arabs, in their turn, refused to enter
the agreement as they would thereby be implicitly recognizing the
existence of Israel. Furthermore, the Arab countries saw the United
States’ mediation as an attempt to consolidate Israel’s position in the
In fact, the geopolitical objectives of security and control over
e Lowdermilk plan, submitted in 1944 with the support of the World Zio-
United States pressure also takes the form of promises of technical and i nan-
Figure 1. The Jordan river system
Source: M.R. Lowi, Water and Power, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1993
water resources outweighed strategic considerations, which would
have called for an ef ort to reach an agreement on the allocation of
the Jordan waters and the undertaking of joint projects.
e rejection of the Johnston plan put an end to all hopes for
launching of national hydraulic plans (Fig. 2). h
e resulting dynamics
took the form of a zero-sum game where water gained by one country
was water lost to the others. h
e consequences were an amplii cation
of political tensions and a strong pressure on water sources. h
limiting factor for the socio-economic development of the region.
Israel completed its National Water Carrier in 1964. In the same
the waters of the Banyas and the Hasbani, both tributaries of the
upper course of the Jordan, to the Yarmuk river. h
eir objective was
twofold: on the one hand, to increase the l ow of the Yarmuk, which
is mainly utilized by two Arab countries (Syria and Jordan); on the
other, to reduce the l ow of the Jordan, which feeds Israel’s National
Water Carrier, by ca. 35%. Israel saw the Arab diversion project as
a serious attack against its water interests. After several battles along
the Syrian border – two months before the outbreak of the Six Day
War – the Israeli army bombed the Arab deviation structures.
Jordan – the weakest actor, as regards both water availability and
geographical position within the basin – turned to the Yarmuk for
the construction of its own national waterway. It deviated the river
at Adasya and conveyed its waters to the Jordan Valley through the
East Ghor Canal. A joint project with Syria for the creation of a
large basin – the Maqarin dam – to gather the waters of the Yarmuk,
intended to rescue Jordan from its summer water emergency, met
with i rm opposition from Israel, which feared a reduction of the
Jordan’s l ow. In this case, too, no punches were pulled in the struggle
A. Amendola, G. Autiero, “Gestione delle risorse comuni e incentivi alla
Figure 2. The Jordan basin: major existing and proposed
Source: M.R. Lowi, Water and Power, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1993
for the control of water resources: the i rst structures of the Maqarin
dam were destroyed shortly before the Six Day War.
The 1967 war and the changes in the balance
e 1967 war, although it was not a “war for water”, did have
e conl ict was concluded with Israel
acquiring a positional advantage along the upper Jordan, and thus
de facto taking control of the main regional water resources. Israel
achieved this through its occupation of Golan, which is crossed by the
tributaries of the upper course of the Jordan (the Dan and Banyas), and
West Bank, with the rich aquifers of Mountain, and the coastal aquifer
of Gaza. h
rough its control of Golan, Israel gained total control of
the Jordan and was able to use water as a negotiating weapon. h
diverting plans. h
e only source that remained outside of Israel’s
control was the Hasbani, which originates in southeast Lebanon.
Among the Arab countries, Jordan was the one whose water
problems were most aggravated by the conl ict. It lost West Bank and,
as a consequence, its access to the Mountain aquifers; its water needs
were increased by the immigration of about 300,000 Palestinian
refugees; and it suf ered the ef ects of the extension of Israeli control
along the north bank of the Yarmuk from 6 to 12 kilometers. Jordan
was forced to accept the new geopolitical situation as ineluctable.
e water dispute thus entered into a pragmatic phase during which
ever scarcer water resources through technical agreements with Israel
that did not challenge the new status quo.
As to Israel, even before 1967 it had already depended for its
water supply on the Mountain (Yarkon-Taninim) aquifers in the
western part of West Bank, whose water could be tapped within the
Green Line by means of very deep wells.
After 1967, Israel took
E. Ferragina, L’acqua nei paesi del Mediterraneo cit., p. 337.
direct control of the aquifer and introduced strict restrictions on its
use by the local Palestinian populations, notably:
– he digging of wells was prohibited under military ordinance
158 of 30 October 1967, without permission from the Israeli
authorities. Such permission was only given sporadically, and only
for domestic use.
– Pumping was forbidden along the mountain ridge overlying
the Yarkon-Taninim aquifer.
– he use of earlier wells adjoining Israeli wells was prohibited.
hese restrictions were imposed because the aquifer lows
westward, and the West Bank rainwater hence feeds into areas within
Israeli territory. hus, these limitations to Palestinian exploitation of
the area uphill of the aquifer resulted in an increased availability
of water in the downhill area exploited by Israel. he years after
the occupation witnessed a de facto congealing of Palestinian water
consumption, which actually increased, but very slightly, especially
when compared with the Palestinian population’s high rate of
New perspectives for the settling of the water dispute appeared to
open with the Oslo agreement of 1993, which airmed the importance
of the environment and water resources in the peace process, laying
the foundation for future cooperation in this sector. he pro tempore
agreement of 1995 (Oslo II) marked a turning point in water
negotiations. For the irst time, Israel recognized the Palestinians’ right
to a quota of West Bank’s water resources, although they put of the
allocation plan to the inal phase of the negotiations. his delay was
partly due to the fact that the water question is indissolubly connected
with other key issues that were also put of until the inal phases of
the negotiations, such as refugees’ right to return, the tracing of the
boundaries of the future Palestinian state, and the inal status of East
Jerusalem. All these aspects could potentially exert a decisive inluence
on the inal allocation of water quotas to the two populations.
he Green Line marked Israel’s boundary before the outbreak of the Six Day
Oslo II also marked the beginning of an autonomous institutional
organization of the water sector, with the creation of the Palestinian
Water Authority and the passing of the 2002 law on water, which
formally incorporated the principles of environmental sustainability and
integrated management of water resources. Due to the lack of democracy
of Palestinian institutions, however, the law was passed without
previous consultation of local administrations. h
is resulted in a lack of
coordination between the Palestinian Water Authority, which draws the
guidelines of water policies; the Ministry of Local Government, which
manages the urban water supplying networks; local administrations; and
private individuals using the water for agricultural purposes. In the years
following the Oslo agreements, the Water Authority only exercised a
weak control over the sector, limiting itself to the application of counters
to the wells placed within the territory of the autonomy, and to putting
a tax on extraction in excess of assigned quotas; without, furthermore,
being actually able to enforce even these measures.
e reform of the water sector in Palestine was complicated by
e W.A.’s action was
bogged down by innumerable limitations, not the least being the need
to supplement the small water quotas assigned to the Palestinians
with quotas purchased from the Israeli water agency Mekorot. h
Bank, which complicated infrastructural action, and by technical
and organizational shortcomings in the management of the water
sector. As a consequence, no measures were taken to expand and
maintain the water supplying network, to control extraction, or to
safeguard water resources.
e failure of all attempts at cooperation in environmental
has been largely determined by the two populations’ dif erent
perceptions of the objectives of the peace process and its modes of
e Israelis are mainly interested in setting up a regional
cooperation that would allow them to dodge the thorny issue of
the partition of the water of the Mountain aquifer. h
their attempts to revive major water transfer projects such as the
importation of water from Turkey via Antalya, the Peace Canal,
and the proposed Red Sea-Dead Sea conduit, as well as their huge
investments in research on new desalting technologies.
At the same
technical aspects connected to the qualitative deterioration of water
resources, such as the joint management of wastewater collection and
processing systems by Palestinian villages and Israeli settlements.
he Palestinians, on their part, although they agree on the need
for cooperative efort to safeguard water resources, see the problem
from a political perspective. hey prioritize gaining recognition
of their rights to the Mountain aquifer and the drawing up of an
allocation plan. his explains the refusal of Palestinian municipalities
to cooperate with the Israeli settlements within the Palestinian
Territories, as this would imply recognizing the legitimacy of the
colonies. Water has become, one again, the terrain on which political
distances and contrasting objectives are gauged and weighed, and
this ampliies the pressure on resources.
Furthermore, ever since the second Intifada, political emergency
has caused what limited control and regulation power had existed
previously in the sector to lapse, allowing non-sustainable ways of
exploiting water resources to spread even more.
Unequal access to water and its environmental
repercussions on water resources
Renewable water resources in the countries of the lower course of
the Jordan (Israel, Jordan, West Bank, and Gaza) amount to about
3.3 billions of cubic meters. Of these, Israel controls about 2 billion,
Jordan 1 billion, and Palestine a mere 296 million.
he Peace Channel project, launched by Sadat in 1978, conveys water from
the Nile to Sinai. An extension to Israel is envisaged. he Red-Dead project, in-
stead, aims at digging a canal from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. he Dead Sea is
to be used as a reservoir for the Red Sea Water. he plan also envisages the buil-
ding of desalting plants exploiting the gradient between the two basins.
he data on Israel are from the Water Resources Institute, those for Palestine
to an average per capita availability of 157 cubic meters a year for
Jordan, 344 for Israel, and 93 for the Palestinians. All three countries
are far below the minimum annual threshold of 1000 cubic meters
per capita recommended by the World Bank.
lower course of the Jordan depend both on the balance of power between
them and on positional advantages within the basin. Jordan, a weak
strategic and military actor compared to Israel, is placed at a further
disadvantage by its downstream position along the river. h
of the Jordan River running through Jordanian territory after l owing
out of Lake Tiberias are subject to strong upstream extraction by Israel
af ecting its quality as well as its quantity. Because of the limited l ow of
the Jordan’s lower course and the many saltwater tributaries it receives,
the river’s contribution to Jordan’s water balance is irrelevant.
us, over the years the country has been facing an increasing gap
plateaus, water extraction for agricultural use has exceeded local
recharge rates. An equally strong pressure on underground water is
observable in urban areas, especially in the Amman-Zarqua-Wadi Sir
conurbation. By 2000, about 2500 wells all over the country were
drawing water in excess of aquifer recharge rates.
One of the environmental repercussions of the water crisis is
the Disi-Mudawarra, on the border with Saudi Arabia. h
of cooperation attempts with neighboring countries – i rst and
foremost Jordan’s 1994 peace treaty with Israel, which failed to lead
to the launching of joint projects – has led Jordan to set its sights on
this huge fossil deposit to meet the capital’s water needs.
As to the Palestinian Territories of Gaza and West Bank, the
water situation there is aggravated by Israeli occupation. h
E. Ferragina, D. Quagliarotti, “L’ambiente. Cooperazione e i nanziamenti
allo sviluppo sostenibile nel Mediterraneo”, in Rapporto sulle economie del Mediter-
raneo, P. Malanima (ed.), Il Mulino, Bologna 2007, pp. 185-212.
M. Hadadin, Water Resources in Jordan, Resources for the Future, Washing-
resources presently allocated to the Palestinian population of West
Bank include 80 million cubic meters of underground water and 50
MCM of supericial water, or a total of 130 MCM. A clear example
of unequal access of Israelis and Palestinians to water sources is the
fact that the Palestinian Territories, although most of the Mountain
aquifer lies within their territory, exploit the least quantity of its
water. Israel utilizes 57.1% of the total groundwater resources, the
Palestinians only 8.2%. he daily average per capita consumption is
270 liters for the Israelis, 93 for the Palestinians.
here is also a strong gap in domestic consumption: 98 cubic
frequent cutofs in water supplies and leaks along the pipelines, in the
Palestinian towns this already limited consumption is further reduced
to 50 liters per day: half of what the World Health Organization
regards as the minimum required to meet basic hygienic and sanitary
standards. he gap is even more dramatic when we relate the igures
for water consumption of the Palestinians and the Israeli colonists to
their respective populations (2.3 millions vs. 230,000). he colonists
are consuming 5 times more water than the Palestinians.
Most of the Palestinian wells were dug in the Fifties or Sixties,
when West Bank was under Jordanian control. hey are of limited
depth, plunging down only slightly below the top of the aquifer, and
are hence exposed to gradual drying up as a result of the operating of
the Israeli wells, which are a lot deeper. During the Sixties, these wells
contributed to a gradual change in the Palestinian rural landscape,
characterized by a transition from surface irrigation to drop-by-drop
irrigation and the spread of intensive agriculture.
Investments in the hydraulic sector have been declining over
the last decades, as nothing has been done after 1967 for the
maintenance of water infrastructures. Oicially, 69% of Palestinian
villages are reached by the hydraulic network, but only 46% of
these are constantly supplied. In the rest, the water supply is often
interrupted. he networks are obsolete and losses are higher than
he Palestinian Environmental NGO’s Network (Pengon), he Wall in Pa-
45%. Because of the poor condition of the infrastructures, the water
supply is exposed to contamination from wastewater and garbage
from the Palestinian villages and the Israeli settlements.
Increasing restrictions on free circulation within the Palestinian
Territories of Gaza and West Bank often prevents Palestinian
villages from taking their waste to dumping areas. h
is results in
garbage accumulation that causes health problems and contaminates
e poor condition of sewage systems adds to the
pollution. Both the Palestinian villages and the Israeli settlements
are often forced to discharge their waste water in watercourses or
allow it to rise above the safety level in cesspools. h
us, the years
of Israeli occupation have brought on a general decline of the
environmental situation in the Palestinian Territories. h
ere is no
system for the collection and disposal of solid refuse and wastewater,
and the quality of water sources keeps going down.
An emblematic example of the damage done to water sources is
observable in the Gaza Strip, which extends for 45 kilometers along
the coast of the Mediterranean and has one of the highest demographic
densities in the world, with 1,300,000 Palestinians – 900,000 of
whom refugees – living within an area of 360 square kilometers.
Until their dismantling in 2006, the Israeli colonies used about
35% of the water of the coastal aquifer underlying the Strip, causing
environmental degradation through excessive pumping. h
situation in this area has further deteriorated since 1996, when the
Palestinian population reacted to the end of Israeli control by digging
about 200 unauthorized wells. h
e increased extraction has resulted
in a lowering of the aquifer and the consequent intrusion of seawater,
which has made the aquifer unusable for human and agricultural
consumption. Since water, whether superi cial or subterranean,
knows no political boundaries, the environmental disaster of Gaza
has had serious repercussions in Israel as well. As some researches
have shown, some two thirds of wells in central Israel are polluted by
ini ltration of unprocessed wastewater from West Bank.
R. Twite, “A Question of Priority – Adverse Ef ects of the Israeli-Palestinian
he outbreak of the Second Intifada in September 2000 had
further environmental repercussions. While the destruction of
harvests and olive groves, the illing up of wells, and damages to
hydraulic infrastructures cannot be regarded as a deliberate strategy
that Israel is enacting against the Palestinian population, they are
certainly a heavy cost that natural resources have to pay in a no-holds-
barred conlict where water, once again, has become an instrument
of collective punishment and political blackmail.
The construction of the Barrier
and its impact on water resources
In 2001, Israel began the construction of a wall to prevent
Palestinian suicide attackers from accessing the territory of Israel.
he wall is planned to run for 790 km in the West Bank (the irst
phase involved the districts of Jenin, Tulkarem, and Qalqilya) and
will afect about 500,000 Palestinians, or ca. 22% of the overall
population of West Bank.
he 8-meter-tall barrier does not run along the 1967 boundary,
12,000-hectare cushion zone between the wall and the Green Line.
his zone is thus de facto isolated from the rest of the Palestinian
territory. In 2003, Israel announced completion of the irst 27
kilometers of the wall. he lands the wall runs through, with its
security systems (barbed wire, electronic control systems, etc.), are
under temporary seizure by the Israeli authorities, as the building
of the wall is regarded as a temporary measure and, as such, not in
violation of the interim agreement signed in 1995, which prohibits
unilateral modiications of the boundaries.
P.F. Rogers, M. El-Sayed Selim (eds), Springer, Berlin 2003, pp. 563 - 572.
On 9 July 2004, the Le Hague International Justice Court declared the Wall
ted Stations endorsed the Court’s judgment with 150 votes in favor, 6 contrary,
and 6 abstained.
In this i rst phase, the building of the wall led to the destruction
of some 30 kilometers of infrastructure, the uprooting of 102,320
trees, the demolition of 85 shops, and the loss of 14 hectares of
cultivable land. h
e directly af ected communities – that is, those
residing within the wall or in the area between the wall and the
Green Line – are about 65, for a total of about 206,000 individuals.
deterioration of living conditions and aggravated poverty. According
to a World Bank report, the number of people with a daily income
of less than $ 2 (the international poverty threshold) increased from
600,000 to 1,200,000 between 2000 and 2001. h
e percentage of
the population below the poverty threshold rose from 20% before
the outbreak of the Second Intifada to more than 60% in 2002.
e social and economic disruption and the isolation of Gaza
was built. In the period immediately following the Oslo agreements,
living conditions in the Palestinian territories along the Green
Line had improved, thanks to new opportunities to provide labor,
artifacts, and services to the Israelis at extremely competitive prices.
A lot of this complementarity between the Israeli and Palestinian
economies was disrupted by the building of the wall.
e Palestinian Hydrology Group has conducted an investigation
of the Wall. Of these, 22, which had yielded about 4.3 MCM
of water per year, were directly impacted, as they were coni ned
behind the wall. h
e remaining 15, which supply 2.65 MCM of
water, were af ected indirectly, as the land they used to irrigate
now lay beyond the wall. 32 of these wells were in the district of
Qalqilya, the remaining 5 in that of Tulkarem. h
e wall destroyed
12,000 meters of irrigation networks. 37% of the families who had
utilized the wells in the districts of Jenin, Tulkarem, and Qalqilya
World Bank, Two Years of Intifada, Closure and Palestinian Economic Crisis,
were deprived of water for agriculture.
he conditions for the Palestinians’ access to water, and indeed
water consumption is drastically reduced under the following
1. he well lies west of the wall and the hydraulic network it feeds
lies totally or partially east of the wall;
2. he well lies east of the wall, but within the “security zone”, i.e.,
the cushion zone created to prevent attacks against the wall itself;
3. he well lies east of the wall and the hydraulic network it feeds
lies totally or partially west of the wall;
4. he well lies in the path of the wall.
he construction of the barrier has had especially negative efects
on the private wells dug during the Fifties and Sixties, reducing the
quantity of water available for domestic and agricultural uses, and
forcing the population to buy tank water for 3 to 5 times the price
of private-well water.
Diicult access to water resources is the worst threat to the
Palestinian economy. he aquifers supplying the best and most
abundant water to the West Bank Palestinians are those of the
western Mountain. In the areas of Tulkarem and Qalqilya there are
142 wells, from which the Palestinians extract about 20.4 MCM,
about a third of the total yield of the three underground basins of
West Bank (60.4 MCM). hese were also the areas in West Bank with
the highest agricultural yields. he three districts housed 22% of the
total population, but accounted for 45% of the overall agricultural
production. 60% of their population depended on agriculture for
their livelihood, directly or indirectly.
According to 2003 data
Palestinian Hydrology Group (PHG), Water For Life: Continued Israeli As-
tation and Hygiene Monitoring Project 2005.
he Impact of Israel’s Separation Barrier on Afected West Bank Communi-
(HEPG) 2003, p. 11.
agriculture to the Gross National Income was about 75%, mainly
as a consequence of land coni scation and isolation following the
building of the barrier.
In sum, while the water supply issues determined by the
veritable humanitarian crisis, they certainly pose a major constraint
to Palestine’s economic development and contribute to the
deterioration of the Palestinians’ living conditions. A troublesome
question is that of uncertainties regarding water property and usage
rights. In a number of situations, access to water is unequal not just
between the Palestinian and the Israeli population, but within the
Palestinian population itself. h
e Palestinian economy is still based
on agriculture. To further reduce Palestine’s already scarce water
supply and undermine the integrity of the irrigation network is to
impede the emerging of a Palestinian economy that is autonomous
from that of Israel.
In the light of the unsatisfactory results of past negotiations for
the allocation of the water resources of the Jordan basin, can we still
look forward to a successful “water diplomacy” in the Middle East?
A hypothesis that has been gaining favor lately is that the “water
stress” the area has been subjected to for years may eventually act
as a catalyst for regional cooperation, since the future of the area
now more than ever depends on the satisfying of the water demand
in an arid environment exposed to climatic variability.
pollution do not directly depend from the Arab-Israel conl ict.
However, political instability in the area does stand in the way of
Palestinian Hydrology Group (P.H.G.), Continued Israeli Assault on Palestini-
I. Ray, G. Baskin, Z. al Qaq, W. M. Hanemann, “Environmental Diplo-
attempts to ind common solutions to an environmental crisis that
extends beyond national boundaries.
Alternative strategies are required to assuage regional water
competition. Above all, conidence building measures are needed.
No hypothesis for the allocation of the water of the Jordan basin can
be put forward as long as water is used as a means to put pressure
on rivals, and as long as deep inequalities in access to water continue
to exist between Israel and the other countries of the basin. A new
negotiation strategy employing impartial mediators is called for.
In an international basin such as that of the Jordan River,
marked by a high imbalance of power and the hegemony of Israel,
the involvement of external actors is needed to facilitate the peace
process and guarantee equity in the parceling out of common
resources. he major international inancial institutions should
only grant funding to hydraulic projects under condition that
they comply with environmental sustainability standards. hey
should also exert pressure on Israel to put a stop to all use of water
as an instrument of political pressure. Incentives to cooperation
in the water sector are needed. Something like the “dividends of
peace” - as Peres called them - granted in the period immediately
following the launching of the peace process in the Middle East. If
a virtuous process were activated, involving technology exchanges,
the undertaking of common projects, a revival of the tourist sector,
improved management and safeguarding of water sources, water
could become the motor of regional economic development.
S. Peres, he New Middle East, Holt, New York 1993.