This blog post was contributed by Jessica Marx, intern at FoEME’s Tel Aviv office.
On November 30, 2010, a regional conference took place in Jerusalem to introduce a new model water agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) presented a water accord to replace the Joint Water Commission established by the Oslo Accords in 1995. The new model shifts water management paradigms by including all parties as decision makers, in addition to incorporating both national and local levels of cooperation among both riparian regions.
Water has come to define much of the politics of the region, but as FoEME has shown, tackling water demand management through a different lens can lead to cooperation and water security on many levels. Access to water is a human right, a right that belongs to everyone in Israel and the PA. Authors of the agreement, Dr. David Brooks and Dr. Julie Trottier, reiterated that water must be examined as a process, and any solution must be treated as such. Rather than examining water allocation as pieces of a pie, the process of water management must recognize that water flows. Another important feature of the model agreement incorporates differing property regimes, both centralized and decentralized, into water management in the region. Three vital facets to the new agreement include equity, economic efficiency, and ecological sustainability.
Water injustice is rampant, and this water agreement seeks to allocate water fairly and justly for all peoples in the region. Pollution and the demise of ecosystems have lead to further threats to water security. It is only through cooperation of parties in the region, specifically through a new water model agreement, such as the one presented at this conference, that water equity can be reached.
Various decision-makers, lawmakers, professors, and experts presented their opinions on the FoEME Water Agreement. Although not all speakers agreed with the proposal, Fouad Bateh, senior advisor to the Head of the Palestinian Water Authority, agreed that the fact that Israelis and Palestinians congregated for such an event and a debate on the issue was initiated, was important in and of itself. Also significant was the presence of MK Yoel Hasson, who launched an Israeli Water Security lobby last month in the Knesset.
To bear witness to this event was remarkable, especially due to the fact an NGO in the region is advancing such an innovative water agreement. FoEME’s admirable efforts produce genuine results in the region – from promoting programs and transboundary dialogue among neighboring communities sharing water sources, to assisting in the launch of a water security lobby in the Israeli Knesset, and to producing a model water agreement aiming to replace the Joint Water Accord.
Committed to water equity, FoEME’s Model Water Agreement conference enabled various voices to hear one another, showing that it is only through transboundary cooperation that an agreement and actual change will transpire.
To read the press release and other information related to this conference, please visit FoEME’s website.
Also, watch ‘Valleys of Hope and Despair’, an interesting documentary dealing with the battle over access to clean water sources and Israeli-Palestinian cooperation to preserve water supplies.