Israel, Palestine, and Water

Anyone who has been to “the Holy Land” or even been in a drought knows how important water is. Biblical images of life-giving streams take on richer theological and practical significance upon reflection on such experiences.

My friend and colleague Carole Burnett recently returned from another trip to Israel and Palestine. Today she has an eloquentt letter in the Washington Post responding to Monday’s op-ed piece by Ehud Olmert, the former prime minister of Israel, arguing that growth within Israel’s already-existing settlements should not be seen as problematic.

Carole claims that Israelis are diverting water that rightfully belongs to Palestinians, that Israelis are polluting Palestinian land, and that many Palestinians are not getting the safe water they need (and, I should add, that is a basic human right).

She concludes the letter as follows:

So let us hear no more about the alleged necessity of allowing the settler population to expand. Even if Israel begins to abide by its agreement to halt its confiscation of Palestinian land, its ever-encroaching appropriation of Palestinian resources must also be stopped if there is to be any hope for a viable Palestinian state and, thus, for the two-state solution that Mr. Olmert professes to support.

3 Responses to “Israel, Palestine, and Water”

  1. brian says:

    Being here in Albuquerque, I hear a lot about water shortage in other places too, for instance the Rio Grand is rapidly drying up, and as the main water source for millions of people from Colorado to Mexico (as well as the fact that most of the water is being used further north) it will certainly be a political tension in the relatively near future.

    Same with the Colorado River, as the water levels in it have dramatically declined in alarmingly short periods of time. In both of these cases, United States citizens feel the burden less because the rivers are being diverted from the north the most, and therefore by the time the Colorado, for instance, reaches its terminus, its merely a trickle.

    And of course Kenya is currently experiencing large water shortages especially in Nairobi.

    All three (four including the Palestine article) suggest that struggles over basic needs will continue, and even escalate in the near future.

  2. MJG says:


    Thanks for pointing out the breadth of the problem and reminding us of its existence even in the U.S.

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