Explaining the Political-Geopolitical Role of Water in the Existence of Israel

Document Type : Original Article


Department of Geography, Faculty of Humanities, Maragheh University, Maragheh, Iran


Extended Abstract       
The origin of the political-geopolitical role of water should be sought in the nature of human existence. Water is closely related to the primary nature of human (i.e, the biological aspect) and politics to his secondary nature (i.e, the social). The primary nature of human forms the biological aspect of human and his being, and it deals with the biological tools of human such as water, food, etc. Water is, therefore, considered as one of the essential requirements of human life and existence or the biological aspect of mankind. In addition, the secondary nature of human life is shaped in the social realm, wherein various social instruments—including culture, politics, etc.—give human life a social character; consequently, it can be said that politics is one of the essentials of human life. Politics in its truest sense is, nonetheless, shaped in human life within power networks. It can easily be said that the political-geopolitical role of water, before any other issues, speaks about the system of water governance with the purpose of targeted control over water resources as one of the elements and requirements of human existence. A paramount example of this is the political-geopolitical role of water in Israel’s existence.
This study has tried to analyze the political-geopolitical role of water in Israel’s existence, employing a descriptive-analytical method. In this regard, it first discusses the historical process of political-geopolitical role of water in the Palestinian territories, and then analyzes the political-geopolitical role of water in Israel’s existence.
The findings of this study are discussed under the following themes:

The embryonic period of state building in Israel and the thirst for water (1917-1948): in this historical process, the Zionist leaders, with the support of the British government and with the previous informations to the Palestinian territories, tried to predict and design the borders of Israel so that all the water resources of this territory would be placed within its borders.
The period of Israel’s independence and the water nationalism (1948-1967): after independence and experience of the 1948 war with Arabs, Israeli government adopted a number of important laws in the framework of a nationalist approach, including the use of second-class citizen law and the Statute Act. According to these racist laws, the Israeli government’s water policies against Palestinian groups were nationalized; in other words, water nationalism, water racism or water apartheidapproach dominated the Israeli water policies.
The period of domination over water resources in occupied territories (1967-1991): this period can be described as the period of colonialism and the exploitation of water (the period of political-geopolitical domination of water resources) in Palestine. This period begins with the Six-Day Arab-Israeli War (Water War) in 1967, expressing the hydro-political-geopolitical ambitions of Israel (especially the dominance of the Golan Heights) in domestic and foreign policy.
The period of targeted diplomacy for the maximum use of water resources (after 1991): the period of the establishment of a new water order in relations with Arabs on the basis of water diplomacy, with the aim of controlling water resources, in which the various Israeli conditions for negotiating the use of water resources clearly reflect a targeted diplomacy in Israel’s domestic and foreign policy for the maximum use of available water resources.

The study of this political-geopolitical mechanism shows that after the establishment of the state of Israel, drawing on various way, Israeli leaders sought to capture the water resources (the arteries of Israel’s existence) in the Palestinian and its surrounding territories. These ways include, among others, the idealization of the subject of water, the ideological approach to water, the psychological attitude to water, the definition of the development entity by water, the definition of the process of socializing by water, creating water crisis and hereby deepening the psychological-nationalist dependence on water, and also promoting the spirit of resistance among the Jews, creating the sense of place belonging through water nationalism, water racism and water apartheid, securitizing the water, use of force, threat, warfare, occupation, the expansion of Jewish areas, water exploitation, water theft, targeted role playing in the peace talks. This water (hydropolitical) monopoly and exploitation in the political-geopolitical cycle of Israeli-Arab relations (geography of power) is considered as significant features of Israel’s domestic and foreign policy.
Undoubtedly, the identity and existence of every nation is firstly considered as the geographical-political essence of the territory. This identity and existence for each human group in every territory usually takes shape in view of a series of material and spiritual factors (warps and woofs of nation-building), and through a difficult process. This issue is also clearly evident in the mechanism of the existence and identity of Israel. Given the debates, it can be argued that the existence and identity of the state of Israel is limited tothe existence of water resources and control over it. In other words, it is easy to see water as the essence of the political geography of the dry and violent Palestinian/Israeli territory. However, this does not mean the negation of life in the difficult water situation in this geography; the existence of water resources has another meaning for the Jews. They did not experience living in a difficult climatic or geographic situation. From a psychological-political point of view, no factor could play an influential role as water among Jews in the creation of the sense of place belonging. When it comes to the existence of the state of Israel, water as the source of human life plays the role of blood in the human being in the mechanism of creating psychological connections. Water for immigrant Jews in the dry and violent land of Palestine/Israel (their holy homeland) created the ideal geography and territory of Zionist leaders—both psychologically and in a political mechanism.
Therefore, the existence of the state of Israel (the Jewish homeland) boils down to the mechanism of the will and desire of the Zionist leaders to establish the nation and the state of Israel. In fact, the iconographic structure of the existence of the nation of Israel was developed by the Zionist leaders; and the very essence of Zionist thoughts and ideals is linked to the geo-spiritual factor of the water. On this principle, water can be regarded as the most important feature of the existence and identity of the Zionist state. In terms of geographical-political realities, water, as a symbolic geographical factor, takes geographical-political nature in connection with the essence of the territory and nation of Israel. It gives identity to the nation and state of Israel through a difficult political-geopolitical mechanism in the political approaches of the Zionist leaders in the framework of idealization of water, water nationalism, water racism, water apartheid, water monopoly and colonialism, water imperialism, the definition of development on the axis of water, the securitizing of water, to name but a few. In other words, water can be said to have a powerful hydro-political influence on the existence and identity of Israel through a dynamic iconographic role (internal convergence) and circulational (autonomy and existential legitimacy in the outside world).


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