July 1, 2002


The Middle East has a long history of dispute over water resources, with the Palestinian-Israeli dispute at its core. Israeli control over the water resources is a consequence of the military power it used in the 1967 War. The region's water crisis is not merely a question of supply. It has always been linked to power structures in the region, which maintain inequality among those who share the water. To date, all negotiation attempts on the reallocation of the water supply have failed because they were not based on the right of the equitable and reasonable utilization principle. Although the pretext is security, the desire of Israel to control water resources is, in fact, one of the main reasons why Israel is reluctant to transfer more territory to the PA. In 35 years of occupation, a growing population and ongoing settlement expansion have increased the burden on the limited water supply and worsened the already tense political relations. Owing to its complexity and significance to both the Israelis and Palestinians, the water issue has been delayed to the final status negotiations together with other critical issues such as Jerusalem, borders, refugees, settlements and security, which have yet to be resolved. This special bulletin intends to shed light on the present water situation in the Middle East with special emphasis on the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis.