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Hydro-hegemony, water governance, and water security: Palestinians under Israeli occupation in the Jordan Valley, West Bank

Michelle Rudolph
International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Hague, The Netherlands; michelle-rudolph@outlook.com

Rachel Kurian
International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Hague, The Netherlands; kurian@iss.nl

ABSTRACT: 'Hydro-hegemony' typically refers to the power-related tactics and strategies used by stronger states in transboundary water disputes that prioritise their access to water and compel weaker entities to submit to these conditions. Such asymmetrical power relations also have a bearing on the nature of water governance, and thereby, the water and human security of vulnerable water users, as detailed in the conceptual framework of this article. Our analysis of the case of the West Bank, and more specifically the Jordan Valley, shows how Israeli control over the region – most visibly manifested in superior weaponry along with greater economic and technological capacities – influences the institutions of water governance as well as decision-making and implementation processes in favour of Israel while deliberately generating water and human insecurity for Palestinians. During fieldwork in 2019, we interviewed Palestinian water users in the Jordan Valley as well as representatives of water governance and other related institutions in the West Bank. Their 'voices' highlight the different dimensions that lead to water insecurity being structural, systemic, and pervasive in the daily lives of Palestinians. Their water insecurity in the context of military occupation is linked to their overall human insecurity. As a result, Palestinians are denied not only their right to water but potentially also their right to life.

KEYWORDS: Hydro-hegemony, water governance, water security, human security, Palestinians, Jordan Valley, West Bank