By Jeffrey K. Sosland
Examines cooperation and clash over water within the center East.
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Additional resources for Cooperating Rivals: The Riparian Politics of the Jordan River Basin
Israeli officials stated that prior to the military action Israelis had been farming and mine clearing the area. When King Abdullah of Jordan saw a map signed by a Jordanian officer that placed an island that was northwest of Naharayim and east of the international boundary in Israel, he asked that this territory be returned. 51 After the 1994 Jordan-Israel Treaty, the island was returned to Jordanian sovereignty. Between 1949 and 1955, the MAC served as an important venue for Jordanians and Israelis to meet and discuss numerous issues, including Jordan and Yarmouk water disputes.
74 The construction site was in a DMZ close to the Syrian border, so the Syrians also vehemently objected to the project, arguing that the proposed canals would take water away from Syrian farmers and would give Israel a military advantage. 75 In 1953, the United Nations ruled against Israel on the construction of the water projects near B’not Yacov Bridge. The Syrians, with the United Nations concurring, argued that the armistice agreement had not settled the question of sovereignty and that neither party consequently had a free hand in the area.
58 An agreement was not reached, and when two weeks later Israel resumed work, the Syrians responded militarily to stop them. 59 The compromise resolution was an Israeli agreement to work only on the western side of the Jordan and not on the Arab-owned land. 60 During this incident, Syrian diplomats indicated to US representatives that the Syrian government favored a division of the DMZ. 62 Through the MAC, Israel and Syria cooperated. 63 In the end, the precipitating reason for this violent conflict in the Syrian-Israeli DMZ was water scarcity, the intermediate factor was the dispute over the DMZ, and the long-term reason was the lack of a resolution of the Israel-Arab conflict.