In 2002 Israel began to construct the Segregation Wall or Apartheid Wall, impacting Palestinians’ current access to water, more significantly, it will have a much greater impact on future access if it becomes an internationally recognized border.
The Wall grabs Palestinian wells, springs, and cisterns that Palestinians have been dependent upon for centuries. The Wall is also designed to capture most of the few future potential Palestinian abstraction zones of the Western Aquifer Basin. The Wall stands to cut Palestinians off from areas that would yield an addition 90 million cubic meters annually.[i] Compare this amount to Palestinians total current water supply in the West Bank, which is just 180 million cubic meters according to the Israeli Water Authority.[ii] Palestinians in Nabi Saleh and elsewhere are engaged in weekly demonstrations against the Wall to reclaim their water resources.
Today Israel dominates the Western Aquifer by preventing Palestinians from drilling new wells, by imposing quotas on existing Palestinian wells, and by drilling many very deep wells on Israel’s side of the Green Line for Israeli use. Israel’s deep productive wells tap into the Western Aquifer almost exclusively from within Israeli territory, compared to less than a handful of Israeli wells accessing the Western Aquifer from inside Palestinian territory, as seen in the map Israeli Wells and the Segregation Wall. But if the Wall becomes the new internationally recognized border between Israel and Palestine, then Israel will retain near-exclusive control of this basin and its benefits, even though it is recharged largely inside the West Bank. Thus it would be able to prevent Palestinians from accessing significant reserves in the Western Aquifer even after the formal military occupation is over.
[i] From Clemens Messerschmid (2011), “The Last Sip: Water crisis in Palestine [Arabic publication],” p. 6.
[ii] Israel Water Authority (April, 2009), “The Issue of Water between Israel and the Palestinians,” (p. 15).