By Saeb Rawashdeh – Aug 22,2019 –

AMMAN — The continued occupation of the Palestinian territories and the current political situation in the West Bank can affect water-sharing agreements between Jordan and Israel, according to a Jordanian scholar.

“One of the main solutions for the water crisis invoked in the Jordanian National Water Strategy is the Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal [RSDSC] project, which is a Jordanian-Israeli and Palestinian project,” Hussam Hussein, a water governance expert who is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Kassel in Germany told The Jordan Times in a recent interview.

Between November 2017 and January 2018, during the Jordanian-Israeli diplomatic crisis, the Israeli government decided to suspend progress on the RSDSC until diplomatic relations were reinstalled, he elaborated.

“In addition, the RSDSC agreement does not address the issue of Palestinian water sovereignty and of water rights,” said the expert.

He gave the examples of trans-boundary basins, such as the Yarmouk and Jordan Basins.

“Jordan has its two biggest rivers shared with neighbouring countries: The Jordan River and the Yarmouk River, which is part of the Jordan River Basin,” he said.

Jordan has negotiated and concluded bilateral agreements with Israel in 1994, and with Syria in 1987, the expert continued. “According to the Jordanian government, the Syrian side has not been respecting the terms of the treaty on the Yarmouk, and this is why the Wahda Dam is almost empty,” Hussein said.

According to the expert, part of the problem is that the 1987 agreement did not include its groundwater resources, which have been over-exploited.

With regards to water scarcity in Jordan, Hussein highlighted social differences: “For instance, the middle class in west Amman does not experience water scarcity because even if they run out of water, they can afford to buy a private tank,” he said, adding that a farmer in Umm Qais, however, will suffer if rainfall decreases due to climate change.