Once Upon a Time...



The Middle East is one of the world’s most water-stressed regions, given its semi-arid nature, population growth and shared transboundary water resources .  In addition, in Palestine in particular, water scarcity is hydro-politically induced.  Since its 1967 occupation of the oPt, Israel has completely controlled our water resources and deprived us of access to an equitable and reasonable share of transboundary shared water, in violation of international law. Instead, Israel has used our water resources for its illegal settlements and meeting the demands of its growing  population (natural and immigrants) , forcing our communities to purchase water from the Israeli company at high commercial prices.

Key Facts

  • Israel draws water from Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee) and transports it out of the Jordan River Basin to coastal cities and the Naqab (Negev) Desert through the National Water Carrier. The amount of water diverted (about 440 to 600 MCM/yr) is such that no natural water flows naturally out of Lake Tiberias, to the lower part of the Jordan River. This is one of the main reasons for the decrease in the water level of the Dead Sea.

    The availability of fresh water  has decreased markedly on a per capita basis since the 1995 Interim Agreement.

    The per capita consumption of water in Israel is over four times greater than that in the oPt.

    The groundwater in Gaza is in a state of crisis, due to massive Israeli pumping from large wells surrounding Gaza, by over-pumping inside Gaza in re action to Israeli imposed water scarcity, and due to contamination resulting from the forgoing two factors and the Gaza Strip’s dearth of waste processing capacity. As a result, 95 percent of the water is non-drinkable. Around 60 percent of diseases in the Gaza Strip result from poor water quality. According to the World Bank and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reports, only five to ten percent of drinking-water wells in Gaza are suitable for the provision of safe drinking water. At its present rate of deterioration, the southern end of the coastal aquifer is expected to collapse by 2020.


Customary International Law

  • Customary international water law guides, informs, governs, and controls the water rights of the parties. Principles include those identified in the Helsinki Rules on the Uses of the Waters of International Rivers of 1966 and the 1997 United Nations (UN) Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses.

    The reliance of Palestine on international law is of critical importance, as the Palestinian case in all facets of the negotiations must be both defensible and consistent

    Under customary international water law,  the principle of “equitable and reasonable” allocation of water among the two or more parties that  share transboundary watercourses, will generate a fair and stable structure within which the Parties can establish a respectful and constructive relationship, in the future

    The right to water and sanitation is a human right. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has noted: “The human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity. It is a prerequisite for the realization of other human rights.” Palestinians – i.e., the individual people – enjoy human rights


Our Position

Palestine and Israel are sharing the Jordan river basin along with other riparian countries (Lebanon, Jordan and Syria) as well as they both do share the ground water of the three aquifer basins underneath West bank (the Mountain Aquifer basin that divided into three sub aquifer basins being the Eastern, the North Eastern and the Western Aquifer basins) that extends beyond the green line in Israel as well as the Coastal Aquifer Basin that goes underneath Gaza Strip.

Palestinians have been denied access to the Jordan river since 1967 while the allocation of the Mountain aquifer in the West bank is allocated inequitably and non-reasonably. As of 2020, the sub aquifer underneath Gaza is totally damaged and water does not fit for human consumption while in West Bank Palestinian have been denied access to the resources, drilling wells and projects need prior approval from both the Israeli side at the Joint water Committee and all projects to be implemented in area classified as C area require an additional construction permit from the civil administration.

The attainment of water rights and the equitable and reasonable allocation of water are required for a successful two-state solution and future political stability in the region. To face increase demand on water Palestinians are purchasing around 90 MCM from Israel on yearly basis. Israel deducting millions of dollars from the clearance revenues as treatment of Palestinian sewage that crosses the green line. Such deduction is done in absence of sewage protocol between the parties and with no con=sent with the Palestinian side

Water issues are linked to, and impact numerous other issues to be negotiated, including borders, settlements, economic relations and refugees, among others.

We must have control over and access to our water resources. We accept the principle of international water law stipulating that both Israel and Palestine are entitled to an equitable and reasonable allocation of shared freshwater resources, both groundwater and surface water resources. We further uphold the other two key principles of customary international water law– no significant harm; and prior notification. We strongly believe that solution to the water issue must be just & sustainable over time requiring appropriate monitoring and management regime



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