Summary: Palestinians have much less water than the WHO says is necessary for health and hygiene. Israel could be far more generous in helping to put this right but presently sees no reason to do so. Login or Register To Unlock The Content!
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2 thoughts on “Water in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute”
Great and clear article. However, how likely is that that the Israelis will allow Palestinians in Gaza or West Bank to get more water when they are even excluding them from the Covid vaccination programme?
I’m grateful to Helen Lackner for her interest in my article.
My view (based on speculation rather than inside knowledge) is that Israel will not give the Palestinians significantly larger volumes of water until it can see some gain from doing so. That could change in the context of a negotiating process, when water would become a negotiating asset for Israel that it could trade for gains on other files. For the foreseeable future, however, there is no incentive for Israel to be more generous than is necessary to avert a major humanitarian disaster among the Palestinians in Gaza, which would be bad PR. Israel is therefore increasing the supply of water to Gaza by just enough to stave off such a disaster. Similarly, it is increasing the supply of water to the Palestinians on the West Bank by just enough to prevent an avoidable breakdown of the relationship with the PA over water, an area in which cooperation is useful for Israel.
There is certainly very little pressure from the Israeli public to be nicer to the Palestinians and very few votes to be gained (and more to be lost) from such a policy. Where the Israeli government has done something for them, it has not always been keen to advertise it: it is providing small quantities of vaccine to the PA but has kept quiet about it: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-after-denial-israel-says-it-provided-covid-vaccinations-to-palestinian-authority-1.9447557?utm_source=mailchimp&utm_medium=content&utm_campaign=haaretz-news&utm_content=ee21f17940<s=1610632879082 .
In all this, a note of caution is appropriate. One should not assume (as many observers seem to do) that Israeli policy towards the Occupied Palestinian Territories is always consistent and coherent. It frequently isn’t.