The Jordan River and the shared water resources of Israel and Palestine

The Jordan River basin is an international water resource, shared by 5 riparians: Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan and Palestine. As a source for fresh water, this river is vital for most of the population of Palestine, Israel and Jordan; in a lesser extent for some areas in Syria and Lebanon.

Sharing this resource among the 5 riparians involves – as in any other international river basin - issues related to access, demand, actual water usage and water rights and (re)distribution.
As water becomes increasingly scarce, access to sufficient water to meet the demands of households, agriculture and industry is a key concern for every government in this region, to sustain the growing population and expanding economies. Overstretching the yield of the resources, environmental degradation and the impacts of climate change threaten the sustainability of current consumption patterns, and as there are almost no alternative water resources available to tap into, water demand and water use are reaching their limits.

Despite the shared interest of the riparians to tackle this challenge together, the regional geopolitics impede a joint approach of the issue of scarcity and water stress. Water resources are thoroughly securitized, becoming a source of political and even military tension. Matters of state sovereignty and ideology now block and integrated regional approach to water management. Therefore, disconnecting politics and ideology from water policy is key for sustainability and - inseparable- peace.