Arab israeli water conflict

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The conflict over water usage and distribution is not the primary cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict; however, it helped increase spite and triggered the flames of war on different occasions. The six days war was in part due to the Syrian diversion of the Jordan River's tributaries, and on different occasions Israel and Lebanon had border skirmishes due to Lebanese water pumping off the Wazani River to provide water supplies to local towns and villages.

          The Wazzani River is the main source of the Hatzbani, which constitutes 25% of the Jordan River’s water, and the Kinneret, Israel’s 50% water supplies. Israel has protested the pumping, but the Lebanese government not deterred saying it is only pumping its rightful share of the river’s water according to UN resolutions. The inauguration ceremony of the pumping station was held on Wednesday October 16, 2002. The project is believed to divert by pipeline as much as 9,000 cubic meters of water daily to neighboring villages and towns. This project perceived by Israel as a direct provocation by Syria and Iran through their proxies in Lebanon added more tension to an already tense northern front. Israeli officials and Lebanese have been exchanging threats and counter threats because of the project; senior Israeli government ministers have emphasized repeatedly that Israel would not allow Lebanon to divert water from the Wazzani River. Furthermore, the Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres was reportedly quoted that the Lebanese mover is rather dangerous and called the diversion of water from the river “ a dangerous move “ despite stating that Israel is seeking to solve the issue through peaceful means. The former prime minister Sharon said “Israel will act to preserve its right when and how it sees fit”. On the other hand, the Lebanese warned that they will “cut off Israel’s hands” if it uses military action to stop the Lebanese plan, and HizbAllah fighters were placed on high alert the day of the inauguration. 
            Israel’s water disputes do not end at its northern borders, in fact, it extends to the east with neighboring Jordan. Although Jordan and Israel did not have border skirmishes due to Israel unilateral pumping of water from the Jordan river since the 1967 six day war which granted Israel more access to the Jordan river, but it has been a subject of unrest to Jordan. The significance of the Jordan River to both countries is that it provides both countries with most of their water needs. For instance, Jordan’s 75 percent of its water needs is provided by the river and only 36 percent of the river flow is outside of its national border. In 1990 it was estimated that Jordan maintained a 260 cubic meters per capita falling 0.25% shy than the minimum water requirement for an industrial nation, and in the year 2025 Jordan is to believe only sustaining 80 cubic meters per capita per year alarming a major decline in its water resources. 

Israel gained more control of the Jordan valley, hence the river, after the six days war. The year after the war, Israel has increased its water consumption from the river by 33 percent. On the contrary, Jordan has lost access to a great deal of water from the Jordan River forcing a termination of its plans to increase its usage of the river and its cannel system. Ever since the war ended, Israel has gained a significant water advantage at both the West Bank valley, known for its rich underground flow of water and wells, and the Jordan River. The central and northern part of Israel depend largely on water coming from the valley and the Golan Heights and because of that peace talks between Arab states and Israel has always been stumbling with Israel’s strategy of holding onto these areas because of their rich water resources along with some other non-related factors. Recently, Israel has worked on finding solutions to its water problems through advanced technology and environmental research part of its efforts to pump water to the entire country. It has dedicated a good portion of its financial resources to find ways to increase efficiency of water usage. A remarkable breakthrough was Israel’s refined drip irrigation system, which delivers water directly to the root of the plant. It has also considered desalinating water from the Mediterranean Sea, which is rather expensive in which impurities from the seawater are removed by using heat or pressure. Both countries have strived to find independent alternatives to help them provide fresh water to their people, yet such alternatives have always been expensive. It became clear to both that whatever solutions they can come up with would be only a temporary answer to the water problems they are facing. On October 26 1994, both Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty halting the state of war between both countries, which lasted for almost 50 years. The Jordan River was included in the agreement signed by both prime ministers, which outlined both countries’ responsibility of building dams for river flow management and build storage facilities to hold excess water from rain floods. Both countries have also agreed to provide water to one another and to work together on conserving water quality from pollution through a joint committee.

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