Overview of Israel-Palestinian Water Issue
(Updated March 2012)
The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement of September 28, 1995, signed in Washington, including the "Water Agreement" (Annex 3, Appendix 1, Article 40), clearly stipulates the manner in which the parties must act in the field of water in the West Bank.
This is an international agreement which was not only signed by Israel and the Palestinians but also witnessed by the United States, Russia, the European Union, Norway, Jordan and Egypt.
Both parties are bound by the principles set forth in this agreement.
Main points of the Water Agreement
Palestinian Water Rights in the West Bank are recognized and shall be negotiated in the permanent status agreement.
Both sides recognize the necessity to develop additional water sources for various uses.
Maintaining the existing quantities of water utilization, while taking into consideration the quantities of additional water for the Palestinians from the Eastern Aquifer.
Future additional needs of the Palestinians in the West Bank are estimated to be between 70-80 MCM/year. Within this framework, both sides recognize the necessity to make available to the Palestinian (WB) during the interim period, a total quantity of 23.6 MCM/year (out of which 5 MCM for the Gaza Strip).
Each side shall take all necessary measures to prevent any harm, pollution, or deterioration of water quality of all water resources.
Both sides shall establish Joint Supervision and Enforcement Teams which shall operate, in the field, to monitor, supervise, and enforce the implementation of Article 40.
In order to implement their undertakings, the two sides will establish a permanent Joint Water Committee (JWC).
Implementation of the Agreement
Israel fulfills its obligations according to the Water Agreement and beyond, as shown in the following:
- Israel has made available approximately 70 MCM/year of water to the Palestinians in the West Bank during the interim period, even though the Water Agreement allocates a much smaller quantity of only 23.6 MCM/year (for the West Bank).
- Israel supplies the Palestinians with 52 MCM of water which is far beyond its obligation in the Water Agreement (31 MCM).
- The Palestinians constantly breach the agreement, as shown in the following:
- The Palestinians continuously drill many unauthorized wells in the West Bank, in contradiction to the Water Agreement. Currently there are over 300 unauthorized Palestinian wells in this area, producing additional water on the account of Israel.
- The Palestinians do not treat their sewage which flows freely in the streams and into Israel, contaminating the environment and the aquifer en route.
- The Palestinians are not developing any new water sources, either through sewage treatment, or desalination.
Sources: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs