Water Networks in the West Bank
All Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal colonies according to international law. It is also illegal under international law for Israel to operate any wells in the West Bank for the benefit of Israeli citizens. This includes the Occupied Jordan Valley.
Illegal settlements in the Jordan Valley contain large agricultural plantations and export water-intensive crops like grapes, dates and flowers to Europe, while Palestinian villages are frequently demolished and Palestinians are denied access to local springs. Israel zones 90% of the Jordan Valley “Area C” and off limits to Palestinian development.
In 1967 there were 210,000 Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley. Today there are only 56,000 Palestinians left. Palestinians in the Jordan Valley have been greatly affected by the diversion of the Jordan River, Israeli military rule, and Israeli colonial takeover.
As part of the Oslo Agreement, Israel was allocated 40 million cubic meters of water in the Eastern Aquifer, an amount it is consuming largely from deep wells in the Jordan Valley. Israeli plantation owners in the Jordan Valley complain that the 9,400 Israeli settlers in the Jordan Valley can’t have more water, while this amount equals 22% of the total amount of water available to 2.5 million Palestinians for domestic purposes, agriculture and industry, including the amount purchased from Israel.
Israel frequently points out that the majority of water it supplies and consumes in the West Bank comes from inside of Israel. But from inside of the Green Line, Israel is abstracting 80% more from the Western Aquifer than its Oslo allocations!
As the map “Water Networks in the West Bank” illustrates: 100% of water supplied by Israeli networks in the Jordan Valley is from local water sources belonging to Palestinians. While many water networks in the West Bank are linked to pipes inside of Israel, the water network in the Jordan Valley is a closed circuit, drawing completely from local sources.
Palestinians have had their land and water resources confiscated by the Israeli military, their homes and water tanks destroyed. Palestinians who still own arable land are not allowed access to sufficient quantities of water to irrigate it. The area is constantly under military rule, where farmers may be shot at by the army for being outside of their homes between the hours of 7pm and 7am. Local residents labor in the settlements without rights, fair pay, benefits or job security.
Even farmers working in the settlements support the boycott of agricultural products these settlements are exporting to Europe, knowing that this could put them out of work in the short-term, because they view boycott as a tactic that will help to achieve justice in the long-term.
Watch the 44-minute LifeSource feature film Jordan Valley Blues.