Israel’s planned annexation of parts of the West Bank threatens to block possible cooperative regional approaches to solving water and energy issues while endangering the food security of Palestinians and halting cross-border environmental cooperation, a new report warns.
“Annexation, as proposed by the current Israeli government, is a unilateral act of land appropriation, which will annex Palestinian land but not people, further aggravating the power imbalance of the occupation and further endangering chances to reach a fair and just solution”, according to the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, which is based in Israel.
“The Impact of Annexation on Natural Resource Management and Environmental Justice in the Jordan River Basin”, published this month, warns that the Jordan River Basin is a climate change hotspot, observing that the region’s dry summers are set to lengthen by two months, at the expense of winters — the main period of rainfall that allows for agriculture year-round.
“The Sea of Galilee in northern Israel — the main water reservoir for Israel as well as Syria, Jordan and the West Bank — is on course to shrink. This is despite the occurrence of occasional rainy winters, such as last year’s, which enabled the lake to replenish itself with fresh water, keep salinity levels in check, and give some respite to pumping from the region’s second main storage source — groundwater”.
Annexation acts as a “threat multiplier” by preventing moves to reach a sustainable and fair solution for saving the shrinking Dead Sea. Annexing the Jordan Valley would threaten Palestinian food security, the report says. The Jordan Valley forms more than a quarter of the West Bank and produces 60 percent of the vegetables consumed by a West Bank Palestinian population which is expected to double over the next 40 to 50 years.