|Abstract||In Israel and Palestine, a natural water scarcity is exacerbated by the overall political conflict. On the one hand, the regional climate is arid to semi-arid, resulting in frequent droughts. Inefficient water utilisation, growing population numbers as well as continuing economic development and urbanisation further increase water needs and amplify existing scarcity. On the other hand, two of the river Jordan’s headwaters, Banias and Hasbani, rise outside of Israel’s internationally recognised borders. The Palestinians have no access whatsoever to the river Jordan, limited access to the ground water resources and are widely dependent on Israeli allocations. Since 1967, the bulk of the natural water resources are under Israeli control.
As a result of these specific conditions, water scarcity is perceived as a cause for (violent) conflict in both the Israeli and the Palestinian society. This manifests in conflictive discourse structures, like the discursive securitization of water scarcity for varying referential objects. Water is perceived and categorized differently by the two conflicting parties: While Palestinians regard the natural water resources as sufficient in principle and the existing scarcity as entirely politically induced, the Israelis perceive the natural water resources as absolutely scarce while receiving major desecuritization impulses from the possibility of desalination. On both sides, the dominant discourse structures underscore the conflictive issues regarding the distribution of water between Israelis and Palestinians, thus making communication, let alone negotiation, downright impossible. It is exclusively in the respective (minor) counter discourses that possible starting points for dialogue and conflict resolution are visible.
With communication – verbal and non-verbal, direct and indirect – at the bottom of every conflict, the reality of Israeli-Palestinian water discourse needs to be taken into account with regard to conflict resolution approaches in the region. This has not, however, been taken into account by conflict resolution practitioners as yet.