Neal Rauhauser: Israel Has No Claim on Litani Waters [But Stealing Water — Lots Of It — from Aquifers]

08 Wild Cards, 12 Water, Corruption, Government, IO Deeds of War
Neal Rauhauser
Neal Rauhauser

Israel: No Claim On Litani Waters

Quality information on the Rivers Of The Fertile Cresent tends to be dense and technical, but there are occasional bits of political dynamite, such as this quote. The Fig. 1 mentioned is the above map of the Jordan & Litani river basins.

On the other hand, it is worthy to note that while analyzing the Lebanese part of the Jordan River Basin, no connection between the Litani River Basin and the Jordan River Basin was found in terms of surface flow, even though both basins lie close to each other (Fig. 1). The Litani basin was found to lie entirely in Lebanon. This result removes any ambiguity pertaining to the inclusion of the waters of the Litani River in any future water allocation scheme for the Jordan River Basin. As it was mentioned in the Johnston Plan and the Israeli “Cotton Plan”, some Israeli negotiators wished to include the Litani River in the Jordan River Basin plan (Amery 1998). Today, the inclusion of the Litani River is still present in the opinion of some politicians but these arguments are not credible since hydrological connections between the Litani and Jordan River Basin have not been proven (Medzini and Wolf 2004; Zeitoun et al. 2012).

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Click on Image to Enlarge

Water has been a pressing concern for the region, driving the dispute between Arabs and Jews since Israel’s inception. This quote from a 1982 Christian Science monitor article reveals the entanglement of aquifers and state boundaries.

Two aquifers provide almost all of the groundwater for Northern and Central Israel, both arising in the West Bank. The shallower sandstone aquifer is recharged partly from runoff and percolation of rainwater falling on the former Jordanian lands. The deeper and more copious limestone aquifer is recharged largely or, possibly, entirely by rainwater from the West Bank.

The Litani River of Lebanon from 1993 is the best overview I have found regarding this situation and it notes interest in transferring a portion of the flow of the Litani to the south has existed for over a century. The web page looks to be the sort of thing that might vanish, so I preserved a copy of the content in Scribd.

Prestatehood Jewish interests in the Litani River were made explicit in letters from Chaim Weizmann, head of the World Zionist Organization (wzo), to various British governmental officials in 1919 and 1920 (Weisgal 1977). In a letter to Prime Minister David Lloyd George, Weizmann argued that Lebanon was “well watered” and that the river was “valueless to the territory north of the proposed frontiers. They can be used beneficially in the country much further south.” Weizmann concluded that the WZO considered the Litani valley “for a distance of 25 miles above the bend” of the river essential to the future of the Jewish “national home” (Weisgal 1977, 267). Nevertheless, the British and the French mandate powers retained the Litani basin entirely in Lebanon. David Ben-Gurion, a leading Zionist and the first prime minister of Israel, suggested to a 1941 international commission on the question of Palestine that the Litani be included in the borders of the future Jewish state. The commission recommended that seven-eighths of the river’s waters be leased to Israel (Saleh 1988).

Click on Image to Enlarge
Click on Image to Enlarge

The instability in Syria is already spilling over into its neighbors to the south, as we saw in Monitoring The Golan Heights. Both Israel and Syria have fueled conflict in Lebanon over the last forty years, including a nearly twenty year Israeli occupation of Lebanese territory south of the Litani.

The Syrian civil war is complex and the removal of Assad will change the character of the fighting, rather than eliminating it. Lebanon’s Hezbollah is sending fighters to support the Assad regime and violence has been spilling back into Lebanon for the last year. Israel has no legitimate claim on the waters of the Litani based on current boundaries. If the Syrian civil war triggers serious disorder in Lebanon Israel could obtain de facto control by restoring the South Lebanon Security Zone.

It is not my intent to provide an implicit suggestion that Israel will seek to regain access to the Litani by encroaching on Lebanon. While there is historical precedent for this, the situation is simply too complex from my current level of knowledge for me to make anything other than a haphazard guess.

Phi Beta Iota:  Zionist Israel is a cancer in the Middle East — a deliberate thief of water through pipes sent laterally into aquifers under Arab territory.  Zionist Israel uses an enormous amount of water for a wasteful agricultural industry that produces less than 5% of Israel’s gross domestic product, and to fill swimming pools for Jewish children covorting in sight of thirsty, dirty Palestinian children who lack water, food, and most conveniences because of Zionist atrocities that the US Government supports and funds.  The destabilization of Syria by the USA, Saudi Arabia, and Israel will create a massive ungovernable region that will spawn pestilence beyond the imagination of the amateurs in the White House who confuse rank with wisdom and secrets with knowledge.  As Ellsberg lectured Kissinger so long ago, they have become “like morons.”  Iran — moderate Iran — is the only winner in this scenario.

See Also:

Chuck Spinney: Israel, Not Iran, is Central Threat in Middle East

Chuck Spinney: Water & the Arab-Israeli Conflict

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