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To what extent does the issue of water play a role in the Israel-Palestine conflict?

Posted in 2011 Papers

We would like to aknowledge that this research thesis has been prepared by Hollie Marie Smith, and is not part of ARIJ publications.

Mismanagement, occupation and overuse of already scarce water resources in the Middle East are increasingly becoming one of the main contributing factors towards conflict in this region. Most especially, in respect to the conflict between Israel and its neighbouring Arab countries. Usually conflict in this region is associated with religion, terrorism and oil, however, it is becoming gradually more apparent that one of the major driving forces behind heightened conflict in the Middle East is resource scarcity. Fresh water resources, in particular, are becoming a crucial aspect in the tension and any future resolution of the conflict.
Israel’s need for securitising water is not a recent phenomenon and can even be traced back to before the Balfour Declaration. This need to achieve environmental security for its people, by occupying land and restricting Arab access to water is having devastating effects on water resources in the region. It’s not only effecting the environment, the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza strip ‗are receiving well below the recommended 100 litres per capita daily recommended by the World Health Organisation (WTO).‘ (Amnesty 2009: 4). This inequality of access to water is created and controlled by Israel, who uses it as a way of achieving security when, in fact, it is only likely to inflame widespread anger towards Israel and its policies. This could in turn increase the hostility towards Israel amongst Arabs and create greater sympathy for terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. Israel’s quest for water security is essentially positioning them in further risk of conflict and even war.

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