The ebb and flow of Arab-Israeli water conflicts: : Are past confrontations likely to resurface?

Eran Feitelson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

The confrontations between Israel and Syria over diversion of water in the Jordan River basin are widely quoted as examples of resource-based conflicts. In lieu of the ongoing negotiations it has been suggested that if Israel relinquishes the hegemonic upper riparian position it has occupied since 1967 such confrontations may recur, especially as per capita water availability has decreased throughout the region. The paper examines this hypothesis. In doing so the paper also addresses a wider question - what implications can be derived from history in discussions of potential water conflicts. It is argued that analyses of this question should not be limited to the history of water use and its availability. Rather, the relation between water issues and the wider inter-state conflicts in the region, and the shifts in the capacity of riparians to address the rising water scarcity are of crucial importance. A discussion of these factors suggests that water may increasingly be a basis for confidence building cooperation rather than confrontation, as the countries in the region have coped with water scarcity through the international food market and the regional dynamics changed. Yet, the ability to address the outstanding water issues between Israel and her neighbors is contingent to a significant degree on the dynamics within Israel. A review of these dynamics suggests that as the importance of agriculture within Israel has declined and new ideologies ascended new venues for agreements have opened. However, the ability to reach such an agreement may be constrained by perceptions molded by past confrontations.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)343-363
Number of pages21
JournalWater Policy
Volume2
Issue number4-5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2000

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