Jordanian farmers: Israel is stealing our water

Israel rejects claim it is over-pumping, says it is working on a project to improve water quality

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Illustrative: The Jordan River (Chen Leopold
Illustrative: The Jordan River (Chen Leopold /Flash90)

Jordanian farmers threatened legal action against Israel, accusing it of over-pumping water from the Jordan River for settlement agriculture in the West Bank. Israel denied that it was doing anything of the kind, and said it was working on a project to improve the water quality.

Adnan Khaddam, head of the Jordan Valley Farmers’ Union, told Jordanian daily Al-Arab Al-Youm Thursday that Israel has placed pumps and 10-inch-diameter pipes in the Jordan to draw water to purification plants and from there to fields in the West Bank. The waste water, he claimed, is funneled back into the southern part of the river, polluting the water.

Khaddam said that Israel’s excessive pumping contravenes the Israel-Jordan peace treaty signed in 1994, and threatened to take legal action against Israel.

Saad Abu-Hamour, director general of the Jordan Valley Authority, a government development agency, told the daily he had no information about the farmers’ allegations, but promised to investigate whether Israel was the water to irrigate fields in the West Bank.

Abu Hamour added that Jordan intends to raise the price of water for irrigation by 30%, considering the price has not been increased since 1994 despite the sharp rise in water prices.

In the peace agreement, Israel and Jordan agreed “to recognize the rightful allocations” of water from the Jordan and Yarmouk rivers.

Uri Schor, a spokesman for Israel’s Water Authority, said the farmers’ accusations were all false.

“They may have heard about our intention to rehabilitate the southern Jordan River,” he told The Times of Israel. “This project will improve the water quality by removing brackish groundwater, unlike what the Jordanians supposedly claim.”


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