2. The water factor in the Israeli-Palestinian study case
Also referring to the hydro-geopolitical struggles, as it often happens in the Middle East, the most potentially dangerous situation is the one between Israel and Palestine. In that case, besides the scarcity of hydric resources, a major role is played by the unequal distribution between the two peoples. Israelis, doubling the Palestinians, can benefit from a quantity of water which is 7 times more than their neighbours, who, in the meantime, suffer from one of the highest rates of hydric deficit in the world.
Israeli nation, since its creation in 1948, considered fundamental the ownership of Jordan waters and the exploitation of the few aquifers of the area. In all four Arab-Israeli wars – 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973 – the disputers mentioned among their goals the control of the hydric system belonging to the Jordan. Military occupations of Golan, West Bank and Southern Lebanon, grown in the different phases of the conflict all had as a result the acquisition by Israel of a strategic advantage for the management of the regional hydric resources. Also the construction of the separation barrier raised by the Israeli government in 2002 in response to the second Intifada started two years earlier, has heavily damaged Palestinian population. After this building, the 37 existing wells in the area – 32 in the district of Qualiqulya and 5 in the district of Tulkarem – haven’t been damaged. This had as a consequence that 37% of Palestinian families depending on the 37 wells remained without any kind of income, not to forget the wall which made greatly difficult for the farmers to reach the territories beyond the wall.
By virtue of these developments, United Nations declared that “nowhere like in the occupied Palestinian territories the problem of how to govern resources has been highlighted”. It’s evident then, that today the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is affected by the problem of the unjust allocation of water. All without considering that, being Middle East one of the areas with major hydric shortages worldwide, solving the conflict between Israel and Palestine could turn out to be insufficient to clear away the more general hydric crisis of the region.
3. Conclusions: which perspectives?
In the Mediterranean sea, as we previously stated, water is getting scarcer and scarcer because of the draining. To this must be added an irregular spatial distribution: 72% of the water supply is to be found in the North bank, 23% in the East one and only 5% in the South one. Consequently, some territories end up in a condition of dependence, compared to others located at the head of the pertaining basins. In this area, more than in other regions of the world, it will be necessary to act quickly and in a common as well as sustainable way.
First of all, the diminution of the water consumption towards more sustainable rates can be achieved through multiple actions that do not involve only the sectors affected by the water consumption, whereas all the economy and social system of rights. In this sense, besides more rational methods of irrigation and farming, it appears necessary to choose industrial processes able to optimize the consumptions. In particular, recycling urban waters represents a reasonable solution for the countries facing hydric crises.
The protection of a global good as water requests, as a matter of fact, collective and coordinated efforts. Still today, however, there is no supranational management of the waters, neither at an international level, nor, least of all, at a Mediterranean level. With reference to the examined region, in fact, in spite of the frameworks of inter-regional cooperation launched by the European Union, first with the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, then with the Neighbourhood Policy, and at last with the Union for the Mediterranean – still no efficient and satisfying results have been achieved.
Finally, as far as Israeli-Palestinian conflict is concerned, it’s been explained how the complicated and fluctuating peace negotiations will have to deal with a definitely not secondary tension: the hydro-geopolitical one.
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(Translated by Valeria Guerrieri)
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