Water Dispute Between Lebanon and Israel Resolved, For Now

Lebanon and Israel have recently been in a dispute over the cleanup of Hasbani River in South Lebanon. The winter rains caused some rocks to move and block parts of the stream, Israel refused to grant permission to the Lebanese to move these rocks and cleanup the river. The Hasbani River is split in half by the Blue Line putting the eastern part of the river under the jurisdiction of Israel. Residents of South Lebanon believe that Israel has no legitimate control of the river and will go ahead with the clean up. Israel withdrew its objection and the cleanup of the river started today under the supervision of the UNFIL forces and Lebanese Army.

This is not an isolated incident; water has always been a major issue in the Arab Israeli conflict. In fact, even before the creation of the State of Israel, the World Zionist Organization had plans to control water resources of the region including the Hasbani River. In 1944 the Hayes plan called for the exploitation of water resources outside of Israeli territory including the Hasbani River by building a Dam[1]. In 2002, Israel threatened to go to war over the pumping of water in Lebanon of the Hasbani River to provide water to nearby villages. Lebanon has accused Israel of pumping underground water from Lebanon’s resources[2].

Tensions are probably going to heat up again over water between Lebanon and Israel especially after the dry winter in the region. The residents of the village of Bilda in the South of Lebanon have been using the the Nabi Sheaib for over a century. However, the marking of the Blue Line in 2009 put the well on the Israeli side. On Wednesday Israel deployed an army patrol near the well. The villagers will allow UNIFIL to mediate a solution. However, they warned they will take action if no adequate solution is reached.

 

[1] http://www.merip.org/mer/mer116/water-israels-occupation-strategy

[2] http://www.bintjbeil.com/water/david_paul.html

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