Annual Survey of International & Comparative Law


Rose M. Mukhar


This study discusses the settlement of water disputes in the Middle East and focuses on two disputes in particular relating to the Jordan River basin and the Mountain Aquifer in the West Bank. There is a genuine need for an all-inclusive approach by the parties utilizing these international transboundary waters. The first dispute relates to the sharing of the surface water of the Jordan River basin between Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinians of the West Bank. The second dispute concerns the shared utilization of the ground water resources from the Mountain Aquifer that extends from the West Bank into Israel between Israel and the Palestinians. In addition to the already complicated issues in any transboundary water dispute, these two disputes also involve extremely complex political and territorial issues. The history of these disputes involves, not surprisingly, both armed conflict and peaceful negotiation. The first section of this study will describe previous efforts to resolve these disputes, including a brief historical review of the background to, and origin of, the disputes. The following section will outline relevant principles of international water law, which up to now have not played a significant role in efforts to settle these disputes. The next section discusses the two disputes in detail. Finally, the study will suggest possible all-inclusive water settlement strategies to resolve these conflicts peacefully, consistent with the binding principles of the Charter of the United Nations (1945).