Co-directors of ALLMEP member EcoPeace (an organization that promotes water diplomacy efforts in the region) Gidon Bromberg, Nada Majdalani, and Munqeth Mehyar call for peace efforts to focus on water in an opinion piece for Reuters.
The past 20 years have seen peace negotiations in the region zeroed in on core issues such as borders and refugees, but, instead of trying to solve all such issues at once, these co-directors believe the path to peace should narrow and start with water.
Various Palestinian communities in the region are continually suffering from water shortages and they require Israeli approval to increase pumping of shared natural water resources. To improve the lives of those impacted by this shortage, an agreement to increase water sales from Israel to the Palestine Authority by 50 percent annually will have an incredibly positive effect, without creating water shortages for Israelis.
The co-directors commend this type of peace work through water sharing and call for the United States to reevaluate its Middle East policies from a water security standpoint as any further reduction in Palestinian’s ability to access water could destabilize the entire region and dramatically set back any and all peace efforts.
The United States and Israeli government’s recognition and understanding of water as a security issue is essential to continue efforts to disrupt the current state of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. With this understanding, and the priority of the Palestinian government focused on meeting basic water needs and promoting economic growth, the region could see real change for a better future.
Beyond the notion of water sales, the co-directors detail the logical next step to negotiate equal allocation of the natural water resources that both the Palestinians and Israelis share. However, both sides have failed to negotiate over natural water reallocation as they are so focused on water as part of the broader negotiations on large-scale issues like borders and refugees. The one thing the sides agree on is that they will not know which natural water resources belong to whom without first agreeing on settlements and borders.
But the issue of water is beyond barriers, borders, and religious differences. Lack of access to safe water can lead to the spread of disease across political borders and the inaccessibility of water resources for Palestinians can negatively impact the entire region. Therefore, the co-directors call for a focus on water first as a means towards peace.
In their opinion piece, Bromberg, Majdalani, and Mehyar state:
Clearly, the fair and efficient allocation of the region’s fresh water could unlock an important path to greater stability. Conversely, the sustainability of any Middle East peace agreement will be compromised if water resources are not allocated fairly and managed efficiently…We urge the Trump administration to think outside the box and, in the interests of a more stable Middle East, to prioritize water projects. Israelis and Palestinians need a sustainable path to peace based on mutual respect and recognition. By advancing a policy that impacts every life, every day, we can restore hope in the possibility of peace, one glass at a time.
Photo Credit: EcoPeace
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