Few people consider Ramallah a key locale when it comes to the future of the energy business in the Middle East. The home of the Palestinian Authority and the de facto capital of the still-nonexistent independent state of Palestine, Ramallah is a cramped, somewhat disheveled city of 60,000 or so. The city, which traces its roots back to the 16th century, lies about 10 miles north of Jerusalem. Like other towns on the West Bank, it has plenty of poverty and plenty of dashed dreams, yet plenty of hope that someday, somehow, Palestine will become an independent country. If statehood does occur – and even if it doesn’t – energy will continue to be the key driver of Palestine’s economy. It may also be the flashpoint that leads to more conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Ever since the Six-Day War in 1967, the fitful peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians have focused on land, water, Jewish settlements in the occupied territories and, more recently, on the "separation wall" Israel is building, much of it on land claimed by the Palestinians.
All of those issues are vitally important, and alas, largely unresolved. But the matter of adequate energy supplies at reasonable prices is also a key, yet often overlooked, element in the peace equation.
The Palestinians have one of the fastest-growing populations on Earth. The Israeli population is growing more slowly. But the city’s economy, despite the ongoing violence in the occupied territories, is growing at about 2.5 percent per year.
The combination of these factors means demand for all types of energy is booming in both Palestine and Israel. As with everything in the Holy Land, the politics of energy are complicated. This article will focus on three points: the current state of energy politics in the region, the ties between energy and water and, finally, the problems posed by the separation wall.
Originally posted by citizen smith
reply to post by JanusFIN
Wasn't the issue of water one of the strategic issues behind Israel's motives for wanting to occupy the southern region of Lebanon up to the Litani River during the counter-hezbollah offensive in '06?
It was even stated by the founders of the Israeli state as far back as 1917 that the northern border of Israel should extend as far as the river for this very reason
[edit on 7-1-2009 by citizen smith]
Managing Water for Peace in the Middle East: Alternative Strategies
The National Water Carrier diverted water from the Jordan River fork at Eshed Kinrot to the coastal plain and the Negev desert. Although sections of it were begun before 1955, it was only completed in 1964. The initial diversion capacity of the National Water Carrier without supplementary booster pumps was 320 million m³, well within the limits of the Johnston Plan.
Design of the East Ghor Canal was begun by Jordan in 1957. It was intended as the first section of a much more ambitious plan known as the Greater Yarmouk project. Additional sections included (1) construction of two dams on the Yarmouk (Mukheiba and Maqarin) for storage and hydroelectricity, (2) construction of a 47-km West Ghor Canal, together with a siphon across the Jordan River near Wadi Faria to connect it with the East Ghor Canal, (3) construction of seven dams to utilize seasonal flow on side wadis flowing into the Jordan, and (4) construction of pumping stations, lateral canals, and flood protection and drainage facilities. In the original Greater Yarmouk project, the East Ghor Canal was scheduled to provide only 25% of the total irrigation scheme. Construction of the canal began in 1959. By 1961 its first section was completed; sections two and three, down to Wadi Zarqa, were in service by June 1966.
Shortly before completion of the Israeli Water Carrier in 1964, an Arab summit conference decided to try to thwart it. Discarding direct military attack, the Arab states chose to divert the Jordan headwaters. Two options were considered: either the diversion of the Hasbani to the Litani and the diversion of the Banias to the Yarmouk, or the diversion of both the Hasbani and the Banias to the Yarmouk. The latter was chosen, with the diverted waters to be stored behind the Mukheiba dam.
According to neutral assessments, the scheme was only marginally feasible; it was technically difficult and expensive. Its estimated cost was between US$190 million and US$200 million, comparable to the cost of the entire Israeli National Water Carrier. Financial issues were to be solved by contributions from Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Political considerations cited by the Arabs in rejecting the 1955 Johnston Plan were revived to justify the diversion scheme. Particular emphasis was placed on the Carrier's capability to enhance Israel's capacity to absorb immigrants to the detriment of Palestinian refugees. In response, Israel stressed that the National Water Carrier was within the limits of the Johnston Plan. It declared that, as a sovereign state, it had the right to set immigration policies without external interference, and refused to make concessions regarding Arab refugees.
The Arabs started work on the Headwater Diversion project in 1965. Israel declared that it would regard such diversion as an infringement of its sovereign rights. According to estimates, completion of the project would have deprived Israel of 35% of its contemplated withdrawal from the upper Jordan, constituting one-ninth of Israel's annual water budget.
In a series of military strikes, Israel hit the diversion works. The attacks culminated in April 1967 in air strikes deep inside Syria. The increase in water-related Arab-Israeli hostility was a major factor leading to the June 1967 war