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Research Article

Energizing Mid–East water diplomacy: The potential for regional water–energy exchanges

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Pages 292-310
Received 03 Jul 2018
Accepted 09 Apr 2020
Published online: 26 May 2020


This article presents a nongovernmental initiative to address asymmetric hydropolitical relations in the Jordan River basin through issue linkage. The initiative would develop desalination capacity along the Mediterranean to supply water to Jordan, with Jordan generating and distributing solar energy to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Such a project could provide a range of economic, environmental and geopolitical benefits to the parties involved, though it would also increase national dependencies on critical resources, which may be a serious impediment to adoption. Still, such mutual dependencies may be preferable to the current unilateral and asymmetric relations.

Disclosure statement

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.


1. A similar body of literature, which is not reviewed here, suggests that energy transitions away from fossil fuels in general, and adoption of renewables in particular, can reduce conflict and promote peace (IRENA, Citation2019).

2. For reference, the commonly used Falkenmark index of water stress indicates that countries with annual supplies of less than 1000 m3/p/y suffer from water scarcity, and those with less than 500 m3/p/y suffer from chronic water scarcity (Falkenmark & Lindh, Citation1976).

3. Desalination currently accounts for roughly a third of all freshwater supplies in Israel and the equivalent of 75% of domestic water consumption (Israel Water Authority, Citation2018).

4. An alternative scenario, in which enough water was provided to ensure 80 m3/p/y to all residents regardless of nationality, was also evaluated, but is not reported herein, as both Jordanian and Palestinian policy makers and experts participating in roundtable meetings indicated the amount to be excessive, beyond the goals set by the governments, and probably beyond reasonable economic means of the respective parties. The reduction in Israeli consumption relative to current levels of 93 m3/p/y was based on historical success in conservation campaigns as well as experimental research into water conservation behaviour in Israel (Katz, Citation2016).

5. Indeed, in Israel’s long-term plan for the water sector, an additional 400–700 MCM of desalination capacity is being planned for Israel alone by 2030 (Israel Water Authority, Citation2012, and personal communication).

Additional information


This research was funded by EcoPeace Middle East and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.

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