201286 Water and conflict in the Middle East

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 11:24 AM

Alan F. Meyers, MD, MPH , Department of Pediatrics, Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA
Water resources are central to the evolution, and the resolution, of the Israel-Palestine conflict. The region's main water sources are the Mountain Aquifer and the upper Jordan River. With its occupation of the West Bank (WB) and Gaza following the 1967 war, the government of Israel declared all water resources in the occupied Palestinian Territories to be owned by the State and controlled by the military. Palestinian water rights in the WB were abrogated. Israel now takes 80% of Mountain Aquifer water, and the separation barrier it is building extends onto WB land overlying the aquifer. Palestinians are not permitted to drill wells, or access the Jordan River. Consequently, per capita Palestinian water consumption is 60 liters a day, compared to 330 liters/day for Israelis (including WB settlers); WHO recommends a minimum of 100 liters/day. Over 200,000 WB Palestinians have no access to running water; half of households report water quality problems. The World Bank estimates the cost to Palestinian agriculture at $480 million annually and 110,000 jobs. In 1995, Oslo II established a Joint Water Committee (JWC), but an April 2009 World Bank report notes that “the JWC does not function as a ‘joint' water resource governance institution because of fundamental asymmetries - of power, of capacity, of information, of interests.” The Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem notes that “Israel's policy regarding water supply in the WB …flagrantly breaches international law.” It is unlikely that peace will be achieved unless and until there is equity in access to water.

Learning Objectives:
Describe the role of water resources and their control in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Keywords: Water, War

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have presented on health aspects of the Israel-Palestinian conflict at APHA for several years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.