Articles

The Essentials of Sustainable Water Resource Management in Israel and Palestine

Posted in 1999 Papers

Water is recognized as a nascent source of conflict between Israel and its neighbors especially Palestinians, who are facing an acute water crisis not because of the area’s arid conditions but primarily because of the abnormal political conditions caused by Israel’s control over the Palestinian groundwater and surface water resources. Israel is currently utilizing more than 80 % of the Palestinian groundwater resources and denying Palestinians their rightful utilization of the Jordan River. Palestinians are currently allocated 87 MCM per year for domestic and Industrial use leaving the per capita consumption under suppressed demand at an average of 30 m3/year, which is far below the required standards of water supply. For agriculture, Palestinians have access to 151 MCM per year which they are using to irrigate around 11 % of their cultivated lands while Israel is enjoying abundant water to irrigate 62 % of its cultivated land. The current water allocations came about as a result of fete compli arrangements reflecting the balance of power rather than internationally formulated agreements
According to Oslo II agreement, Israel recognized the Palestinian water rights, but these are to be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations. However, so far, no negotiations have taken place to enumerate the Palestinian water rights. The issue of Palestinian water rights will be one of the most difficult issues in the final status negotiations. The Oslo II agreement included arrangements for delivering an additional 28.6 MCM for the Palestinians to meet their immediate needs for domestic water use during the interim period. Regrettably, only 7 mcm of additional water has reached the Palestinians which is not enough to meet the growing needs of the population which is still experiencing water shortages.
Israelis and Palestinians should immediately and forcefully adopt a holistic approach in addressing their water conflict. The interdependency between water management and environmental protection, social progress and economic growth is clear and necessitates joint water management schemes which will ensure equity in water accessibility to both Palestinians and Israelis. Unless these issues are addressed immediately and properly according to international norms that will translate into actual water in their pipes, Palestinian will remain the thirsty partner in the Middle East with a severe water crisis that will impact the sustainability of the peace process. The paper will address the Israeli-Palestinian water conflict and propose ways and means of resolving it.

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