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Water Wisdom

Preparing the Groundwork for Cooperative and Sustainable Water Management in the Middle East

Edited by Alon Tal and Alfred Abed Rabbo

Publication Year: 2010

Israel and Palestine are water scarce. As the peace process continues amidst ongoing violence, water remains a political and environmental issue. Water Wisdom is model for those who believe that water conflict can be an opportunity for cooperation rather than violence. Thirty leading Palestinian and Israeli activists, water scientists, politicians, and others met to develop a future vision for the sustainable shared management of water resources. Their work explores the full range of scientific, political, social, and economic issues related to water use in the region; acknowledges areas of continuing controversy; and identifies areas of agreement.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Contents

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pp. v-viii

Illustrations

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pp. ix-xi

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Preface

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pp. xiii-xv

For too long the professional literature characterizing the conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians over water issues has suffered from the twin transgressions of excessive generalization and alarmism. Books and articles did not engage expertson the two sides and encourage them to systematically identify those areas about which they agree and disagree. ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xvii-

The authors would like to express their gratitude to the many people who assisted in the preparation and production of this volume. Na’ama Teschner was a superb administrator during the initial stages of the project and oversaw much of the logistics for the workshop in Amman. Omar Khassawneh, made all the arrangements in Amman and was of invaluable help in organizing the workshop there. ...

Abbreviations

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pp. xix-

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Introduction

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pp. 1-9

This book offers considerable details about a range of water issues. The systematic and symmetrical enumeration of key controversies surrounding Israeli-Palestinian water resources by experts on both sides offers a unique contribution to this wideranging literature. Each subject has its own nuances which need to be considered. ...

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Part 1: Characterizing Water Resources

While Israeli and Palestinian management of water resources can constitute a politically charged issue, there are some objective facts about which the sides generally agree. A brief overview of the water resources available to each side and the major environmental threats facing them offers an important foundation for any analysis about the full range of transboundary water issues considered in this book. ...

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Water Resources: The Palestinian Perspective

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pp. 13-25

This essay considers the water resources available both in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. First, review of the quantities is provided along with Palestinian claims and expectations for expanded resources. The essay then considers the associated water qualities, the sources of contamination, and challenges for environmental protection. ...

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Water Resources: The Israeli Perspective

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pp. 26-36

Climatically, Israel and its neighbors are located in areas that are identified as water scarce regions. Figure 1.6 shows the enormous variation in rainfall that characterizes the relatively modest distance of 300 km from Israel’s northern tip near the Lebanese and Syrian border to its southern most point, at the Gulf of Aqaba. Some 20% of the water potential lies in the south of the country with 80% of the precipitation occurring in the north. ...

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Editors’ Summary

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pp. 37-40

There appears to be little substantive differences between Israeli and Palestinian assessments of available water resources and their condition. For the most part, the sides are no longer arguing about facts or data, but rather water rights, allocation, and policy. ...

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Part 2: Past Water Agreements and Their Implementation

As the focus of this book is the potential for reaching a comprehensive final agreement for allocation and management of water resources, it is important to consider relevant past accords between the parties, their achievements and failures. These two essays provide a review of the provisions in the interim peace agreement with regards to water, for the first time considering their actual implementation. ...

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The Oslo II Accords in Retrospect: Implementation of the Water Provisions in the Israeli and Palestinian Interim Peace Agreements

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pp. 43-48

Article 40 of the Oslo II agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians forms the normative basis for cooperation in the water and sewage sector during the interim period as identified in the agreement for the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In this essay we will highlight the main issues addressed through a brief review of the expectations of the Palestinian side versus what it perceives as has actually happened on the ground. ...

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Article 40: An Israeli Retrospective

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pp. 49-61

In 1995, an interim agreement between Israel and the Palestinians was signed in Washington. As implied by its title, it was supposed to be an interim agreement that would pave the path toward the Permanent Status Settlement. The Permanent Status Settlement, in fact, was to have been signed by 2000. Sadly, 15 years later, there is no sign of a permanent agreement. ...

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Editors’ Summary

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pp. 62-64

Objectively, there are areas of clear progress that can be identified with the execution of Article 40 of the interim peace accord with its provisions for cooperation in water management. And yet there are also clearly disappointments on both sides. Palestinians have a difficult time translating “objective” indicators of progress associated with implementation with a general reality of day-to-day deterioration with which they are familiar. ...

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Part 3: The Water Culture of Israelis and Palestinians

This part offers insights into the culture of water for Israelis and Palestinians. For a final agreement to be sustainable, it is important that it enjoy broad popular support. Hence, it is important to explore how Israelis and Palestinians think about water and its relationship to the larger issues of Israeli-Palestinian relations. ...

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Water Culture in Palestine

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pp. 67-70

There are several objective differences between the water resources in the Palestinian sector and those in Israel. The most obvious one involves absolute quantities of available water. Israel currently has the upper hand in control of both surface and ground waters of the Jordan River watershed, including those areas in occupied West Bank. ...

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Water Culture in Israel

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pp. 71-75

With at least 60% of water going to agriculture in Israel, its unique role in local Israeli culture and heritage must be understood and the practical manifestations integrated into an assessment of water culture in Israel. Agriculture has historically enjoyed a privileged place among Israeli decision-makers. ...

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Editors’ Summary

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pp. 76-78

The cultural contexts of Israelis and Palestinians in the realm of water have noted similarities and differences. But they inform and will influence the future discourse about water resource management. ...

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Part 4: Water Legislation

The legal framework for Palestinian and Israeli cooperation on water issues must address issues of both quantitative allocation of shared water resources and protection of water quality. Protection of water quality is related to protection of water quantity in several ways. ...

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The Palestinian Legal Regime for Water Quality Protection

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pp. 81-89

The legal heritage in Palestine dates far back to various historical eras including the Ottoman rule, British Mandate, Jordanian/Egyptian rule, and the Israeli military orders issued during the Israeli rule. Then there are Palestinian laws and regulations. ...

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Legal Framework for Allocation of Water and for Protection of Water Quality in Israel

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pp. 90-97

The ownership of water is based on a system of public, rather than private, ownership. All water sources in Israel are designated by statute to be public property, subject to control of the state. The state is to exercise its control in a way that serves the needs of the residents of the state and development of the country. ...

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Editors’ Summary

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pp. 98-100

It is assumed that water quantity allocation will be addressed in an agreement between Palestinians and Israelis and that such an agreement may require changes in the existing domestic legal rules of both parties. For the most part, both entities have legal regimes in place for water quantity allocation, ...

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Part 5: Groundwater Management

Much of the literature involving “water conflict” and the need for joint management between Palestinians and Israelis has focused on the Mountain Aquifer, which is shared by the two parties. This series of three aquifers contains the highest quality water of the natural reservoirs in the region and constitutes the only meaningful source of water for Palestinians in the West Bank. ...

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Shared Groundwater Resources: Environmental Hazards and Technical Solutions in Palestine

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pp. 103-116

Transboundary or shared water resources imply hydrological interdependence, connecting different riparian countries within the one shared system by the use of these waters for their various needs. The borders of groundwater and surface catchments and national boundaries are obviously not congruent, ...

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The Mountain Aquifer: Shared Groundwater Resources, Environmental Hazards, and Technical Solutions

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pp. 117-121

The dispute between Israelis and Palestinians over the shared water resources of the Mountain Aquifer is one potential obstacle in the path of peace in the Middle East. One of the largest freshwater sources in Israel and Palestine is the Mountain Aquifer, a particularly vulnerable resource. ...

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Editors’ Summary

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pp. 122-124

The crux of the historic disagreement between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators in the water realm has involved rights to the Mountain Aquifer. Both sides have conveniently adopted theoretical positions which support their hydrological interests. Hence, Israel argues that it enjoys historic rights to the aquifer, ...

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Part 6: Stream Restoration

While the term “river” is a misnomer in water-scarce areas, the many natural streams of the area are in chronically poor condition. Beyond sewage treatment, industrial wastes, nonpoint source discharges, and a host of other pollution sources need to be treated. ...

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The Condition of Streams and Prospects for Restoration in Palestine

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pp. 127-135

While a rich variety of streams flow through the Palestinian Authority, most of them are highly polluted, mainly from untreated wastewater and other polluting activities. The pollutants not only flow in the surface water, but often infiltrate the groundwater which both parties use for drinking and for other purposes. ...

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Stream Restoration under Conditions of Water Scarcity: Insight from the Israeli Experience

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pp. 136-147

Prior to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, many of the coastal streams had significant perennially flowing water habitats. Today, two-thirds of the population, a majority of the industry, and a considerable share of intensive agriculture activities are located in the coastal plain. ...

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Editors’ Summary

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pp. 148-150

Stream restoration is still in nascent stages of evolution in the region. While there have been modest and isolated improvements in several Israeli streams, the general situation is still extremely polluted and water quality is far from the natural conditions. Aquatic ecological systems have not been restored and the present conditions are generally poor. ...

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Part 7: Drinking-Water Standards

Historically, there have been clear links between drinking water and health, with epidemics occurring in both the Israeli and Palestinian sectors as a result of cholera, polio, dysentery, and a host of other water-borne diseases. While for the most part water quality has improved, there is no shortage of problems which require ongoing monitoring and measures to reduce exposure to contamination. ...

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Drinking-Water Quality and Standards: The Palestinian Perspective

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pp. 153-161

The principal source of drinking water in the southern West Bank is that part of the eastern basin of the Mountain Aquifer which drains to the Dead Sea. This is a deep area within the Mountain Aquifer, with a depth ranging between 800 m and 850m in strata of Albian to Turonian age, and is made up of two principal subaquifers. ...

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Israeli Drinking-Water Resources and Supply

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pp. 162-169

Fresh drinking-water supply in Israel is based on three principal sources: two groundwater aquifers, the Coastal Aquifer and the Mountain Aquifer (the latter is also known as the Yarqon-Taninim Aquifer), and one surface water source, the Lake Kinneret basin. ...

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Editors’ Summary

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pp. 170-172

There is a significant gap in the quality of drinking water available to Palestinian and Israeli households. While Israel’s drinking-water quality has largely improved, there are many examples of chronic contamination in Palestinian West Bank communities. Drinking much of the water supplied in the Gaza Strip has for some time been defined as unhealthy. ...

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Part 8: Sewage Treatment

From a practical standpoint, upgrading sewage treatment constitutes the single most important priority for improving water quality. The rapid population growth in both Israel and Palestine has increased the quantities of wastewater produced, while there has not been a concomitant expansion of associated infrastructure. ...

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Sewage Treatment in Gaza and the Quest to Upgrade Infrastructure

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pp. 175-182

The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas in the world with a population of 1,472,000 in 2005 and an area of only 365km2. The Gaza Strip is located in a semi-arid area where water resources are scarce. ...

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Wastewater Treatment and Reuse in Israel

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pp. 183-188

The total area of arable land in Israel has increased from 1,600 km2 in 1948 to approximately 4,200km2 in 2001. Irrigated land has increased from 300km2 in 1948 to 1,866km2 in 2001. Water scarcity has traditionally been the primary limiting factor in Israeli agriculture. ...

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Editors’ Summary

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pp. 189-192

There is probably no area in water management where the gap between Palestinian and Israeli environmental performance is greater than in sewage treatment. While Israel’s present level of treatment is often lacking, the present infrastructure and treatment levels are world’s apart from those that existed 15 years ago. ...

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Part 9: Agriculture and Water

Agriculture constitutes the greatest consumer of water in both the Israeli and the Palestinian economies. Besides its dominant role in water quantity issues, agriculture contributes a variety of pollutants. Given its central role in both Zionist and Palestinian culture and the fact that food is not an ordinary product, ...

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Sustainable Water Supply for Agriculture in Palestine

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pp. 195-210

The geographic and historical area known as Palestine has been inhabited continuously by Palestinians whose forefathers thousands of years ago and even before Christ’s time were the Canaanites and Polista tribes of Greece.1 The Canaanites were the first to plow the earth and cultivate it. ...

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Sustainable Water Supply for Agriculture in Israel

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pp. 211-223

Since the beginning of the Zionist resettlement in Palestine around the turn of the twentieth century, Jewish presence has possessed a strong agrarian emphasis. Early pioneers believed in farming as an ideology that was needed to transform the occupational and social structure the Jews had in Eastern Europe into a natural organic national structure rooted in the soil. ...

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Editors’ Summary

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pp. 224-226

Israeli and Palestinian agricultural practices and conditions are in many ways very different. Israel epitomizes an irrigation-driven, high-tech, high-input, high-production system, with an increasing utilization of wastewater and greenhouses. ...

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Part 10: Desalination

Desalination has provided not only a new source of low-cost water, but also a source of optimism for a technological solution to water quantity controversies. The following chapters assess the present state of local desalination facilities along with the associated concerns of Palestinians and Israelis. ...

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The Coming Age of Desalination for Gaza: Visions, Illusions, and Reality

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pp. 229-237

The Gaza Strip is located along the coast of the eastern Mediterranean Sea, covering an area of 378 km2 (United Nations Environment Program 2003), stretching over a distance of approximately 45 km from Beit Hanoun, a town in the north, to Rafah, a city in the south, with width of 7 to 12 km. ...

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Desalination in Israel: Status, Prospects, and Contexts

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pp. 238-245

Desalination is a marvelous technical feat, separating pure water out of the saltwater of seas, brackish aquifers, and wastewater. With membrane technologies improving and the costs of desalinated water dropping, this once exotic water source is fast becoming a mainstay of Israel’s water system. ...

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Editors’ Summary

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pp. 246-248

Desalination has produced considerable optimism among water managers. Indeed, it removes some of the constraints in what was perceived as a “zero sum game” and offers negotiators much needed flexibility. Ultimately, desalination represents the possibility of forestalling the enormous shortages that have been projected for so long. ...

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Part 11: The Jordan River Basin

The Jordan River Basin includes the tributaries to the Jordan River and Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee). Even as the recent drop in rainfall in the watershed decreased dramatically, it remains the largest single freshwater resource in the area. Its administration and protection is central to long-term sustainable water management strategies for the parties in the area. ...

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Managing the Jordan River Basin: A Palestinian Perspective

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pp. 251-257

From the Palestinian perspective, the Jordan River Basin is the most important surface water resource in the region. The river passes through five countries: it has its sources in Lebanon and Syria and flows through Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian lands, which are all legal riparians with legitimate rights. ...

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Managing the Jordan River Basin: An Israeli Perspective

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pp. 258-263

The Jordan River begins in the northern part of Israel, the southern part of Lebanon, and the Golan Heights, where waters flows from springs, melting snow, and rain into the upper Jordan and from there into Lake Kinneret. The Yarmuk River flows through Syria and Jordan, joining the lower Jordan River a few kilometers south of the Kinneret. ...

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Editors’ Summary

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pp. 264-

More pages may have been written about the Jordan River than any other water resource in the world. Such keen interest internationally certainly has little to do with the size of the river, which for most of the year naturally is a modest stream. ...

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Part 12: Gaza's Water Situation

The extremely poor condition of Gaza Strip’s groundwater resources has characterized its hydrological reality for some time. The massive salination of wells was well advanced during the period of Egyptian rule and has only grown worse over time. ...

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The Gaza Water Crisis

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pp. 267-277

The Gaza Strip has a small area of about 365km2 in a semiarid region. It has one of the highest population densities in the world. One of the main issues facing the Gaza Strip today is a water crisis—the difficulty in obtaining safe and clean water where groundwater is the only water source. ...

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Editors’ Summary

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pp. 278-280

The recent violence and military clash between Israel and the Gaza Strip is particularly unfortunate because this small, crowded, and indigent area is in desperate hydrological straights. The inevitable damage to infrastructure associated with fullscale war only exacerbated what was already a deplorable situation. ...

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Part 13: Citizen Involvement

Civil society organizations have begun to focus on building a “culture of peace” around water issues from the grassroots. Several organizations have taken up the challenge of working across the border over key transboundary issues such as pollution of groundwater and wells, wastewater management, cross-border streams, and the management of shared water resources. ...

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The Role of Civil Society in Addressing Transboundary Water Issues in the Israeli-Palestinian Context

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pp. 283-292

In an area of conflict where governments have difficulty discussing civil issues of all kinds, it becomes the role of the civil society to become a voice for these concerns and proffer solutions. The urgency of the water crisis developing in the Middle East, which is inherently transboundary in nature, and the low level of negotiations between governments at this time necessarily bring civil society into the spotlight. ...

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Editors’ Summary

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pp. 293-294

Palestinian NGOs for many years essentially filled the vacuum created by the absence of local governance in the occupied territories, making Palestinian civil society unusually well developed, in general, and particularly impressive and professional in the water sphere. ...

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Part 14: The Role of Third Parties in Conflict Resolution

In order for the Palestinian state to develop and maintain its water resources sustainably for the foreseeable future, foreign assistance will play a critical role. Retired diplomat Robin Twite has been involved as a mediating force in the field for over 15 years and is widely accepted as an objective authority by both Israelis and Palestinians. ...

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The Role of Third Parties in Helping to Resolve the Conflicts over Water Issues in Israel and Palestine

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pp. 297-307

It is by now almost axiomatic that third parties have a key role to play in resolving the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Since 1948 the two peoples have struggled to resolve their differences but with little success. Again and again outright conflict has been succeeded by an uneasy truce, but there has been no real resolution of the issues of concern to both parties. ...

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Editors’ Summary

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pp. 308-310

If the past 15 years have made anything clear, it is that leaving Israelis and Palestinians to resolve their differences will have limited results. Quantum leaps forward in the region became possible due to interventions of third parties. The United States has been particularly active in this realm, ...

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Part 15: Cooperative Water Management Strategies

Ultimately, innovative institutional frameworks will need to be created for “joint” Palestinian-Israeli management of water resources to be effective. Marwan Haddad and Eran Feitelson have collaborated in numerous publications on this subject, providing numerous ideas for possible models. ...

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Joint Aquifer Management: Institutional Options

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pp. 313-320

The Mountain Aquifer, composed of three sub-basins, supplies approximately a third of the Israeli water consumption and is the source of almost all the water supplied to the Palestinians in the West Bank. Due to the properties of this aquifer, it has long been suggested that it should be managed jointly. ...

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Editors’ Summary

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pp. 321-322

This part’s underlying assumption is ultimately embraced by all of the book’s participating authors: joint management of water resources between Israel and Palestine is inevitable. If the management system if designed wisely and equitably, this cooperation will also be more environmentally sound and economically efficient ...

Contributors

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pp. 323-326

Index

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pp. 327-332


E-ISBN-13: 9780813549774
E-ISBN-10: 0813549779
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813547701
Print-ISBN-10: 0813547709

Page Count: 356
Illustrations: 48 tables, 5 maps, 27 graphs
Publication Year: 2010

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Subject Headings

  • Water resources development -- Middle East -- Planning.
  • Water resources development -- Government policy -- Middle East.
  • Water-supply -- Middle East -- International cooperation.
  • Water resources development -- Environmental aspects -- Middle East.
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