Hydropolitics in the Jordan River basin The conflict and cooperation potential of water in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict


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University of Dublin Trinity College Irish School of Ecumenics M.Phil. International Peace Studies

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USAID/Jordan Water Management Initiative USAID/Jordan Water Management Initiative
(Maram Barqawi)

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Tags: Water supply and sanitation Political development

This thesis aims to explore the hydropolitics in the lower Jordan River basin and the conflict
and cooperation potential of water in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is premised on two
complementary hypotheses that presume (a) that water is a determinant factor in Israel’s
continuing occupation of the West Bank and (b) that the significance of the resource will
prevent an overt conflict between the two parties and result in a tenuous cooperation. It
approaches these issues from an eclectic methodological framework, drawing on hydrohegemony
and hydropolitical complex theories and the concept of securitization more
generally. This combined approach allows examining various aspects of the transboundary
water interaction between Israel and Palestine and explaining the extreme asymmetry of water
allocations between the two political entities, thus uncovering the veiled water conflict that
persists beneath the surface of cooperation. Hegemony, power, and compliance are key
concepts that will be elaborated in this respect. Following the hydrological and institutional
overview of the study area, the paper turns to the analysis of how the current situation of
inequality is maintained, and more specifically to the securitization of water resources and the
prevalence of hegemony in Israeli-Palestinian hydro-relations. Eventually, it is scrutinized
what role competing water discourses play in these intricate processes and what prospects
civil society actors have for altering the inequitable water allocations of the status quo and for
achieving genuine cooperation by means of desecuritization and environmental
peacebuilding. The paper concludes by affirming the nexus between water and politics and
the contingency of a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian water conflict on the wider political
context. It also indicates areas for future research.

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