By: Kate Tomlinson 2012
A growing population, increased pollution, and a rise in per capita water consumption have led to a formidable global water crisis. Countries across the world are struggling to obtain the necessary fresh water for domestic, industrial, and agricultural usage. The Middle East, however, is especially sensitive to this growing water scarcity. Already an arid region, the Middle East has been utilizing the full capacity of its water resources for decades. The Middle East contains 3% of the world’s population but only 1% of the global water resources.
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a constant source of tension and instability in the Middle East. Large issues such as Israeli settlements, access and control over Jerusalem, and permanent borders are frequently discussed as the major obstacles to reaching a sustainable, stable peace treaty. Water allocation, however, is often overlooked.
Water allocation remains a key obstacle in negotiations for a peace treaty and needs to be addressed. The Palestinians receive only a fraction of the water that the Israelis consume and the future of their freshwater resources are severely threatened by pollution. The Palestinians do not even have the necessary water to reach the World Health Organization’s minimum standard for Daily Domestic Water Consumption. The current allocation structure is simply not sustainable. Although the water crisis in Israel and the Palestinian Territories certainly embodies the complexity, paranoia, and hostility that characterize Israeli-Arab relations, it can be overcome if both sides take a few logical, rational steps.