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Climate change and security in the Israeli–Palestinian context


  • Eran Feitelson

    (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

  • Abdelrahman Tamimi

    (Palestinian Hydrology Group for Water and Environmental Resources Development)

  • Gad Rosenthal

    (Kivun Consulting)


The Middle East is among the least stable and most fragile regions. It is not surprising, therefore, that concerns have been raised regarding the potential implications of climate change. This article critically examines the potential interactions between climate change and conflict in the Israeli–Palestinian case. Based on a review of the possible effects of climate change, water is identified as the main issue which may be affected, and it also has transboundary implications. We illustrate the potential implications of reduced freshwater availability by assessing the ability to supply normative domestic water needs under rapid population growth scenarios, including return of refugees. In addition, the ability to supply environmental needs and the needs of peripheral farmers under extremely reduced availability scenarios is examined. The normative domestic demand in Israel and the West Bank can be supplied on the basis of natural resources, though re-allocation of water from Israel to the Palestinians is necessary. The Gaza Strip cannot supply the normative domestic needs under any scenario and hence requires immediate augmentation, regardless of climate change. Desalination can supply Gaza’s needs and augment water resources in Israel and the West Bank, thereby partially decoupling domestic and agricultural use from climate. Thus, it is unlikely that climate change will directly affect the conflict. However, framing water as a security issue, along with the potential for furthering such securitization with reference to climate change, may adversely affect the readiness of the parties to take adaptive measures and lead them to rigidify their negotiating positions. Possible effects of climate change on other regional players, particularly Egypt and Jordan, may have indirect effects on the Israeli–Palestinian scene. But this hypothesis requires further study.

Suggested Citation

  • Eran Feitelson & Abdelrahman Tamimi & Gad Rosenthal, 2012. "Climate change and security in the Israeli–Palestinian context," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 49(1), pages 241-257, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:49:y:2012:i:1:p:241-257

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    Cited by:

    1. Julia Urquijo & Lucia De Stefano & Abel La Calle, 2015. "Drought and exceptional laws in Spain: the official water discourse," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 273-292, September.
    2. François Gemenne & Jon Barnett & W. Adger & Geoffrey Dabelko, 2014. "Climate and security: evidence, emerging risks, and a new agenda," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 123(1), pages 1-9, March.
    3. Erika Weinthal & Neda Zawahri & Jeannie Sowers, 2015. "Securitizing Water, Climate, and Migration in Israel, Jordan, and Syria," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 293-307, September.
    4. Karin Aggestam, 2015. "Desecuritisation of water and the technocratic turn in peacebuilding," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 327-340, September.

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    climate change; Israel; Middle East; Palestine; water;


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