Event Reports

Precarious Situation in the Jordan Valley

The Jordan valley has recently received increased international attention within the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. As both sides claim the control over the area, Palestinians consider it as an integral part of their state territory whereas the Israeli government refuses to hand over its military presence at the border to Jordan. Together with the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICADH), the team of KAS Ramallah was able to obtain an overview of the living conditions of Palestinians in the Jordan valley during a one-day-tour.

While the 40.000 Israelis in Ma’ale Adumim, a settlement which is considered illegal according to international law, have unlimited access to electricity and water distribution and even enjoy four swimming pools on their compound, the life of the Bedouins on the other side of Highway 1 is extremely difficult. The area on which they have lived on for more than 50 years belongs to “area C” and is thus governed by Israeli military and civil authority. This is why the community is neither able to graze their cattle in the region nor to establish solid houses or barns. As the Israeli administration does not allow the construction of buildings with steal or concrete, the Bedouins live in shacks and huts which are nevertheless threatened by demolition orders. They are not connected to the electricity network and have no access to the highway that is running directly by their settlement.

The Palestinians in the Jordan valley are facing similar problems. About 87% of the Jordan valley is under Israeli control and belongs to settlements and their agricultural land, nature reserves or military areas. While the region once has been one of their most important fruit and vegetable producing areas due to its natural water resources, Palestinians today have almost no possibility to access its land. Especially in summer, when the water consumption per capita drops to 20 litres a day (the World Health Organisation recommends a minimum of 100 litres a day), the water supply is alarmingly low. No longer can the inhabitants of the valley provide themselves with water from the natural springs but have to buy it from the Israeli water supply company. This is due to the deep water drillings done by Israeli settlements and companies which have dried the springs up. Until the 1950s, around 320.000 Palestinians used to live in the Jordan valley, whereas today only 60.000 remain. While the population of the so-called area “A” and “B” has been continuously growing, more and more families are leaving the Jordan valley due to the difficult living conditions.