Israel and Jordan had basic coordination of some of their actions pertaining to the Jordan Basin since the 50s. In the so called ‘Picnic Table Talks’ the parties met and discussed issues of common concern. This formed an ‘umbrella’ for discussions on water coordination -in spite of the absence of a peace agreement- in which the role of the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) was important. While Israel and Jordan to some degree had enjoyed a relative and tacit understanding on the key areas relating to their shared water in the Jordan basin it was not politically possible for Jordan to enter into an agreement on water (or other issues) before Israel and PLO reached an agreement, which happened in 1993. This paved the way for the Israeli-Jordanian Peace Agreement of 1994.
Water is dealt with rather extensively in the Israeli-Jordanian Peace Agreement. The agreement outlines the water allocations that both countries are entitled to from the Jordan River, including its tributary Yarmouk, and the shared groundwater in Wadi Araba/Arava. The agreement also provides for the storing of Jordanian “winter water” in the Lake Tiberias inside of Israel when they do have a relative surplus of water flow. Israel subsequently releases the water in the dry summer period when Jordan needs it in its urban centres, such as Amman. The agreement stipulates that a Joint Water Committee (JWC) should be established, which is responsible for the implementation of the water clauses of the Peace Treaty.
Prepared by: Dr Anders Jägerskog, Associate Professor Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and UNDP Shared Waters Partnership.
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