Arab Israeli conflict
The Arab-Israel conflict has been well documented with land as the main issue behind the conflict. However, the water resource is also central to the conflict, and perhaps the motivating factor fueling the conflict.Prior to the 1960s, Palestine and other Arab states such as Lebanon and Jordan controlled some of the lands that have since fallen under the control of the Israelis. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip are originally Palestinian and Arab territories. The Six-day war in 1967 was the start of the conflict and the war between the two states. Justice, rights to the use of the resource, as well as the continuity of the countries, has also been dragged into the debate to determine how to solve the conflict permanently.Israel has since taken control of the water resources that were initially under the control of the Palestinians (Gleick&Heberger, 2014). The issue of water maldistribution will be the central theme of this paper. Land conflicts, among other factors, as the sources of the conflict, will be examined and discussed, but the emphasis will be laid on the actions taken by Israel in furthering the conflict.
Both the surface water and the underground water resources have greatly contributed to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.Israel has used the water security issue as the main reason behind the actions that it has taken and the military action it has taken on the Arab lands. Israel depends on the water flowing from the Arablands. Conflicts between the countries and the Arab’s threatening to control the water flow into the Israel country justified the first military action on the Arab lands. Since the invasion of the Israel military personnel into the Arab land, Israel has since quadrupled the lands under its influence. It now controls the Gaza strip, the West Bank and southern Lebanon. The three areas act as the main water sources of water flowing into Israel (Weizman, 2012). Aridity and the huge demand for water made the water resource even more precious to the two countries. Israel’s very existence depends on the water flowing from the regions. The arid nature of the lands in Israel and the influx of Jewish immigrants led to a strain on food resources. Israel needs intensive irrigation for its agricultural and food production activities. These activities are likely to put a major strain on the water resources, considering that the water resourceis being shared.
Israel occupies the Golan Heights and the Southern Region of Lebanon. Occupation of these two key areas allows the country to control the headwaters of the Jordan River. These two regions feed several rivers such as River Tiberias and the Syrian Rivers. These rivers and its tributaries form theJordan international drainage basin. The basin forms the first section of the water conflict. The second part of the conflict arises from the control of the underground aquifers with westward flowing water. The underground resources account for 70% of Israel’s water supply. Israel, on its part, restricts Palestinian access to these regions through military control and the Palestinians are forced to purchase the water. The Palestinians are angered by the fact that the water resources are located on lands that they ought to have control over. Israel claims that it inherited the lands from British colonialists. The claim is unsubstantiated as history shows that Palestinians occupied those regions before the British settlers. The Palestinians are usually left without water for long periods and need to obtain permits to drill water from the underground aquifers from the military (Weizman, 2012).
Israel has a population that tops 4.6 million while the Palestinian population is in the upwards of 2 million.Both these countries are in dire need of the water resources due to the arid nature of the Middle East land. The Palestinians may hold rights to the waters, but historical animosity shows that if they took control of the water, they might deny the Israel’s access to the water flowing from those regions.However, it is worth mentioning that the Palestinians are being denied access to a resource that rightly belongs to them. The illegal immigrants occupying the West Bank have more access that native Palestinians and the Palestinians are forced to pay exorbitant prices for the water resource.For instance, settlers in the disputed land section pay a rate of $0.4 while the Palestinians pay a rate of $1.2 for residential use of the same resource. These injustices and the knowledge among Palestinians that the water resource that they are being restricted to belong to them has served to fuel conflict and led to a series of bloody wars over the years. Israel, on its part has claimed that they need the water for their own security and existence, and that they inherited the land that was initially under the mandate of the British authorities, as well the negative social and economic impact they would suffer if they relinquished control of the resource (Gvirtzman, 2012).
The Middle East conflict has been discussed in different fora with intentions of bringing the conflict to an end over the years with little success. However, recent events have made significant strides towards solving the conflict. Historically, suggestions by Israel towards solving the problem have been inappropriate and severely resisted by the Palestinians. Israel has always justified its actions based on the security of the nations with terms such as ‘water security,’ ‘environmental security,’ and ‘food security.’ Israel has always proposed a joint control of the water resources of proposed projects that essentially left it with more access to the water resource than Palestinians (Fischhendler, Dinar & Katz, 2011). However, it is certain that continued conflict over the water resource as well as the land will lead to the destruction of both countries. The only solution lies in a joint solution in which countries will be willing to commit. Supply and demand for the water resource needs to be considered and access to the water resource to be based on such.The Agricultural policy in Israel that lays emphasis on the water resource from the land under conflict needs to be revised. Israel needs to soften its stance on the water resource. The hardline stances between the two countries have been the main barrier to fruitful discussions between the two parties.
Fischhendler, I., Dinar, S., & Katz, D. (2011). The politics of unilateral environmentalism: Cooperation and conflict over water management along the Israeli-Palestinian border. Global Environmental Politics, 11(1), 36-61.
Gleick, P. H., &Heberger, M. (2014).Water conflict chronology. In The world’s water (pp. 173-219). Island Press/Center for Resource Economics.
Gvirtzman, H. (2012). The Israeli-Palestinian Water Conflict: An Israeli Perspective. Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.
Weizman, E. (2012). Hollow land: Israel’s architecture of occupation. Verso Books.