In order to grasp the complexity of the conflict, I think it's appropriate to also look at issues that somehow lie behind 'raw politics', such as religious issues (see Melissa's recent discussion) and economic ones.

The availability and distribution of water in dry Israel-Palestine is one such issue. It's hard to achieve peace when large-scale economic injustices prevail. The World Bank says that Israel gets four times more water than Palestinians, "although both share the mountain aquifer that runs the length of the occupied West Bank" (Guardian article, 27 May 2009).

The article and the WB report are here:

Overall, of course, water is a scarce resource for both Israelis and Palestinians, although it's apparently scarcer for the latter. Solutions need to be found to ensure sustainable water availability in the Middle East, but such possible solutions must not work for one side's gain alone.

Desalination of Mediterranean water seems to be a highly efficient option, but large-scale Israeli desalination projects again throw up the question of redressing injustices as the water to be desalinated "in fact partially belongs to the Palestinians but is inaccessible for them" ( article, 17 March 2009 --

Water is both an obstacle to peace (in case it's unfairly distributed) and a trigger for peace (economic development through a fair water share in the Palestinian territories could potentially improve security aspects). Read also this:

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Excellent Post Oliver,

I am not sure but I believe it takes one gallon per individual per day to survive. times this with the amount of people in the areas of needed water suppy and you will have your total problem. I have seen reports how jewish settlements of 40,000 are currently living in a sewage dump area and their water is contaminated. It is only a matter of time. I need an ngo or personal individual willing to create a business plan to impliment to correct this problem. If we can get one person to put the plan together we can work with world wide corporations to sponsor the clean waters in the varied countries where water supplies are at crisis levels. It only takes one person to start this phase and look into who else has been working in this area. once a plan is developed then the program on both sides to instill working solutions to provide clean water. The money is there. the plan is not.
Comment: Here is a summary of well-researched contribution to the recent water shortage polemics:
Amnesty's Palestinian water shortage hoax
28 October 2009

The problem of divvying up the scarce water resources of the land between the river and the sea, home of Israel and the Palestinians, has been the subject of serious study, agreements, and propaganda. It is complicated by the fact that aquifers in the West Bank have always served the coastal areas that are part of Israel, by drought, by increasing water needs, burgeoning population. Above all, it is complicated by political squabbles that prevent rational allocation and development of water resources.

Amnesty International added to the propaganda pile recently with a sensational report claiming that Israel is stealing Palestinian water and rationing Palestinians to a trickle of water. Among other things, the report showed pools at Israeli settlements.

The widespread prevalence of inexpensive public pools in Palestinian towns, reported earlier in Haaretz, seems to contradict this claim:

...In March of 2009, long before the Amnesty "report," the Israel Water Authority put out an extensive report on the water situation. According to carefully compiled figures and facts in that report, Israel has more than fulfilled its obligations regarding water under the Oslo agreement. Palestinians have ruined the water substrate because of uncontrolled wildcat drilling, and they refused to cooperate in a desalination project. Settlements do not get their water at the expense of the Palestinians. Some highlights are quoted below:

... The report is much less sensational (and therefore more boring), but far more detailed, than the Amnesty claims, complete with extensive maps and tables. It is worth reading before you decide that Israel is the villain. What a pity that journalists rushed off to write about about Israeli "water theft" without consulting the Israeli report. The problems of wildcat well drilling have been known for years. Of course, if Israel raises these issues, which are all violations of the Olso accords, it will be said that Israel is an "obstacle to peace."
For the people posting on a website called 'Zionism-Israel' the Amnesty report is of course a hoax. It must be a hoax for them, otherwise they would probably have to cease to exist (professionally). Paul. we've seen your dubious sources a million times already.
Paul, then the World Bank report I referenced above is a hoax as well, isn't it?

"The World Bank says that Israel gets four times more water than Palestinians, "although both share the mountain aquifer that runs the length of the occupied West Bank" (Guardian article, 27 May 2009)."

Simply criticising my sources as politically incorrect is intellectually lazy and just emotive! The source alone does not validate or disprove substance.

The report you suspect states "Above all, it is complicated by political squabbles that prevent rational allocation and development of water resources".

Please read the full report at Ami tends to be paranoidly scrupulously accurate about facts. If you think his facts are wrong tell him there.

Simply criticising my sources as politically incorrect is intellectually lazy and just emotive!
Oliver wrote emotionally "Paul, then the World Bank report I referenced above is a hoax as well, isn't it?"

NOT necessarily.
"The World Bank says that Israel gets four times more water than Palestinians, "although both share the mountain aquifer that runs the length of the occupied West Bank" (Guardian article, 27 May 2009)."

One reason for that can be that Palestinians have not attempted to make adequate use of the "mountain aquifer that runs the length of the occupied West Bank". That is NOT Israel's responsibility but that of the PA. That I think is what Ami ISSEROFF writes in his article. If all that really is so, then Ami ISSEROFF makes sense.
The Public Broadcasting Service reported on an hour long segment of a jewish settlement in the West bank. This settlement was of 40,000. I much larger city than most in My State. The community built homes in low lying fashion and it appeared to be a very thriving town. It showed how the palestinians who owned farm land had to pass under a culvert type water by-pass to get to their gardens. In the city it was busy. Outside the city showed waste dumping and ground contamination and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to know what will happen if it continues. It only takes one person to infect the town. It will need to be cleaned up with proper provisions placed so that societies can thrive. The black plague or cholera is no laughing matter. The last main out break in the USA happened in 1911. The sanitation systems are not expensive but it takes planning and correct processing of the water supplies.

Reports are great. They fill a meaning to the reader. The scientist tests a theory before making it a fact. In political arena's the facts are placed until it can be disproven. It is easier to dig a hole and bury the problem then face it. The program needs design a mission and vision to the practice of clean water need to be brought to the world. "Water Mafias" Put Stranglehold on Public Water SupplyTasha Eichenseher in Stockholm, Sweden for NWorldwide corruption driven by mafia-like organizations throughout water industries is forcing the poor to pay more for basic drinking water and sanitation services, according to a new reportational Geographic News August 21, 2008. The water sector is one of most corrupt after health and education, added Håkan Tropp, chair of the Water Integrity Network (WIN), an advocacy group and report co-author.

That's because the poor often don't have a voice in strategic water policy decisions, said Christian Poortman, head of the anticorruption group Transparency International (TI), which collaborated with WIN on the study.

I want to thank National Geographic for taking the time to place top notch reporters and photographers to their magazine. Your efforts world wide are clearly great. This group started in 2006. Their current grant projects are in Nepal, India and Nigeria.
they currently have 720 members, 162 are non affiliated, 325 are ngo based, 44 are listed as policy advisors including the un. There are currently no members from Israel or Palestine. This is sad. There are 51 members from usa.

Get involved, write an outline plan and get it out into the public. This ngo can guide you.
UNESCO_Urban Water Conflicts.pdf They have two pages of articles for water development world wide. They are not only fighting world shortages of water supplies but current conditions where there are water supplies but can not clean them. Two issues here. Fighting corruption to reduce poverty. This lists Israel
Israel (population 6.2 million), invented many water-conserving technologies, but water withdrawals still exceed resupply. Overpumping of aquifers along the coast is allowing seawater to pollute drinking water. Like neighboring Jordan, Israel is largely dependent on the Jordan River for fresh water.

Water Fight
Egypt, whose population of 68 million may reach 97 million by 2025, gets essentially no rainfall. All agriculture is irrigated by seasonal floods from the Nile River, and from water stored behind the Aswan High Dam. Any interference with water flow by Sudan or Ethiopia could starve Egypt.

"The Nile is one I worry about," says Sandra Postel, director of the Global Water Policy Project. Egypt, she says, is militarily powerful but vulnerable. "The hydropolitics might favor some military action, because Egypt is so heavily dependent on the Nile, it's already virtually tapping out the supply, and Ethiopia is now getting interested in developing the headwaters."

When a World Bank official suggested several years ago that water wars are not far off, he might have had Egypt on his mind -- or Turkey, Syria and Iraq, another trio of Middle-Eastern states that are locked in an uncomfortable embrace over water.
Vaclav Havel
The global financial crisis may be grabbing all the headlines, but resolving it should not be allowed to crowd out other vital issues. In the Middle East, for instance, Israelis and Palestinians – as well as many others around the world – are beginning to believe that the negotiations to determine the long-term status of Palestine are going nowhere.

The situation may be more promising than it appears, but one cannot deny that hope for real changes on the ground has faded since talks were relaunched two years ago. This loss of faith is, sadly, establishing a dynamic that will itself inhibit the concessions that are needed if a permanent agreement is to be found.

Because an impasse beckons, it is vitally important to work on those areas in which intensive negotiations have the potential to produce quick results. Fresh water is one such area.

Across the Middle East, water is a security issue. Indeed, people are now recognising two important facts. First, nations faced with conflicting claims to water have historically found ways to collaborate rather than to fight. Even during the 60 years of conflict in the Jordan Valley, water has more often been a source of cooperation than of conflict.

Second, water scarcity is seldom absolute, and even less often an explanation of poverty. To quote the United Nations Human Development Report for 2006: "There is more than enough water in the world for domestic purposes, for agriculture and for industry …Scarcity is manufactured through political processes and institutions that disadvantage the poor."

But almost every nation in the Middle East is using more water than arrives on a renewable basis. There simply is not enough water for everything these nations want to use it for, and the situation will only worsen. Yet, even in Palestine, the crucial water issue is not thirst, but arrested economic development. In the short term, Palestine needs more water to provide employment and income from farming; in the longer term, educational, cultural, and political changes are needed in order to develop a capacity to adapt.

The region's climate and geography mean that water resources are unavoidably shared. But only if water is shared in a rational manner that respects the region's fragile ecology will human life be sustainable.

Clearly, no final agreement on water will be possible until there are agreed-upon borders between the state of Israel and the state of Palestine (assuming a two-state solution), and some resolution of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. But any interim resolution of water issues does not need to wait for final resolution of the major questions of territory. Finding rational ways to share and co-manage water may be easier than solving the "big" issues. In fact, water could help to create a climate of success that aids political progress in other areas.

The good news is that the quantity of water that is needed for drinking, cooking, other household chores and sanitation is small. Most water is used to grow food, so, if a nation's economy is healthy, there is scope for saving water by importing a greater share of food, although every nation will want to maintain some assured food supply for security reasons.

The bad news is that water, unlike land, cannot simply be divided. Water flows on the surface and underground. As it moves, it changes in quantity and quality, and it supports different ecosystems. Moreover, demand for water changes over time. Only a few percentage points of the Israeli GNP come from agriculture today; as a result, its economy requires less water than it once did. Exactly the same transition is likely to occur in Palestine, but it has not happened yet.

Few Israelis deny that Palestinians need more water. Similarly, there is wide agreement that some water currently used by Israelis will have to be allocated to Palestinian use. The current negotiations will inevitably deal with rights to water, which do not seem to be very contentious any more, and the talks can suggest various mechanisms for transfer of management in some cases and for shared management in others.

These are eminently negotiable issues. A flexible and sustainable formula can certainly be found, almost surely including a transitional period that allows both sides to adjust to and account for their different water management systems, as well as for changing conditions and institutions in the future. The principle of a just division of water resources to meet the Palestinians' urgent needs for additional water should be taken as a starting point. Everything else can be worked out.

Shared water calls for flexible, continuous, cooperative water management, based on agreed-upon rights and responsibilities, as well as continuing monitoring and dispute resolution mechanisms. One important point should be added: extensive public participation and transparency, in terms of both process and outcomes, will be key to successful management.

We believe that progress in the peace process and in finding solutions for water issues between Israel and Palestine would also help to unblock progress in the broader region, between the parties on the Jordan, the Orontes, the Tigris, and the Euphrates rivers. Water can be a catalyst for regional cooperation, opening the way to a future comprehensive community of water and energy to enhance the human environment. In such a forum, water and solar energy in tandem could help to move the Middle East from conflict to collaboration.

The cost of inaction or merely pretending to act is likely to be high for everyone in the Middle East. Future water policy should no longer be seen as an extension of current policy, but rather as a new opportunity. Water is the essence of life. People in Palestine and in Israel need it; people in the region need it. Cooperating to secure it is the only way forward.

Václav Havel is former president of the Czech Republic; André Glucksmann is a French philosopher; Frederik Willem de Klerk is a former president of South Africa; Mike Moore is a former director general of the World Trade Organisation; Yohei Sasakawa is a Japanese philanthropist; Karel Schwarzenberg is foreign minister of the Czech Republic; George Soros is a financier; El Hassan bin Talal is a Prince of Jordan; Desmond Mpilo Tutu is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate; Richard von Weizsäcker is a former president of Germany; Grigori Yavlinsky is a Russian politician.
Very good piece.

Mother nature doesn't negotiate anything.

While we're obsessed with conflicts between humans, there's not only something to be said about learning how to live with the earth as a first priority but learn better how to consider its effects--the effects of geophysical space--on the development of spirituality and related political and religious stances. water shortages report from World bank on Israel and Palestine. Jan 2009



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