Sunday, April 05, 2009

Water of the "Holy Land":

For quite some time I have been keeping an eye on the influence of water in the Israel vs Palestine conflict. On top of all the other 'ecowars' I have Google track for me. But I have been reluctant to post on it for a variety of reasons. Now I have decided to do something else: Just share the online research - and at the same time recommend an online tool, Diigo, that I have found extremely useful.

To go straight to the real thing please check out my Diigo list Water of The Holy Land.

Diigo is an online social bookmarking site with one distinct edge: it includes a 'web-marker pen'. As you read the article you want to take note of you can mark texts in yellow using your mouse just as you would reading a printed article using a yellow filt pen. What you see watching the list is all the text I have marked in all the articles I have bookmarked. So, don't disagree with me here. In stead critizise the sources, suggest missing information. (There are many other sweet features to Diigo and I have used it simultaneously with the competitor Twine for some time which it beats in nearly every category but I will move on to the subject now. Try this video for more on Diigo.)

The short-short version

  • The Middle East is an already relatively arid region getting drier by the season
  • Israel is exporting water intense crops (Oranges etc)
  • There is little water under the UN-approved Israeli territories
  • There is water in the Palestinian underground, the Golan heights and flowing from Lebanon
  • We just happen to see conflict in exactly these three areas

Highlights of the highlights

To add just a little more detail here are some copy/pasted texts from my Diigo highlights.
Israel ran out of water in the 1950s: it has not since then produced enough water to meet all of its needs, including food production. [...] Palestinian and Israeli water professionals interact on a Joint Water Committee, established by the Oslo-II Accords in 1995. It is not an equal partnership: Israel has de facto veto power on the committee
There are three major water sources for Israelis and Palestinians: the Jordan River system, the Mountain Aquifer, and the Coastal Aquifer. [...] The Jordan River system, which straddles the borders of Israel and the territories, is completely off limits to the Palestinians by order of the Israeli authorities [...] the Mountain Aquifer, 85 percent of which lies under the West Bank. The 1995 Oslo accords stipulated that Palestinians would have access to 20 percent of that aquifer, with Israel controlling the remaining 80 percent. A recent U.N. report, however, revealed that Israel has restricted Palestinian access to 12 percent. [...] since 1967 no Palestinian may drill a new well in the basin without Israeli permission [...] Until 2006, less than 10 percent of water in Gaza was fit for consumption. When Israel destroyed the water purifiers that year, purification of water has basically halted. [...] Under the Geneva Convention, the Israelis are required to supply the Palestinians with an adequate amount of water.
Israelis per capita use up to five times as much water as Palestinians
For many Palestinians, the fall harvest of some 10 million trees used to be a joyful ritual steeped in tradition. But the West Bank's olive groves have increasingly become a target of extremist Jewish settlers who, hilltop by hilltop, seek to expand their control over land they say they were promised by God. [...] Compounding the farmers' problems, more trees are harder to reach because they lie beyond Israel's lengthening West Bank separation barrier or close to Jewish settlements and their multiplying satellite camps.
4400 dunums of agricultural land are now behind the Israeli apartheid wall. Most of our [Palestinian] wells and water resources are now behind the Israeli wall.
The Golan Heights' key resource is not land but the Sea of Genneseret, or Lake Kinneret. Damascus lost the territory and the access to its water resources in the Six-Day War, with the water supply issue being more urgent for Israel than for Syria.
"Some of them [Israelis] will come and put dead animals and so on into the community water supply, and then-I mean, what do you do, if there's nothing else?"
A recent U.N. report found that Palestinians in some of the hardest-hit communities were spending as much as 30 percent to 40 percent of their income on water delivered by truck.
While I did not explicitly list sources they are extremely easily identified via the Diigo list.

Further simplification

What came first: The hen or the egg? The water issue or the war? As if simplifying the conflict to a rivalry over wells by quoting news sources wasn't enough let me just real quick do it by simplifying the recently popular Israel vs Palestine historical map and adding some water sources by life saver icons:

Critique very much welcome.

Update, June 2009: A Google Map companion (itself subject to updates).

Vis Israel & Neighbours, Water & Strife på et større kort


  1. Note to 'viners: I haven't given up completely on Newsvine as a source - I watch the israel+water tag combi.

  2. Interesting reading!

    And I will definitely check out that Diigo tool soon. :)


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