Palestine Natural Resources, Energy and Environment
Currency: Israeli shekel; Jordanian dinar
Main export goods: food, textiles, shoes, machines, vehicles
Largest trading partner: Israel, Jordan
Natural resources, energy and environment
Water is the most important of all natural resources in Palestine – because neither the Palestinians nor the neighbors have enough water. It also makes water a safety issue.
The natural resources include white limestone, called Jerusalem stone, which can be seen in many buildings. There are several hundred quarries on the West Bank. The community Beit Fajjar is the center of the mining.
Natural gas has been discovered in the sea off the Gaza Strip. A British company has been commissioned to extract and export the gas but no business has yet started. The Palestinian Authority has instead shown interest in buying gas from Israel. Most of the electricity used is also from Israel. A small part comes from Egypt and Jordan or is generated by small local generators.
A large part of the underground water resources in the area are located under the occupied West Bank’s mountain. There are also streams that flow through Israel into the Mediterranean and enable Israeli agriculture. Calculations made in recent years show that Israel and the Jewish settlements on the West Bank use about four-fifths of the water from there, while Palestinians have access to one-fifth. Israel has a larger population, but even per capita Israelis use more water than Palestinians. Imbalances in the technical conditions can also be observed. The Palestinian infrastructure is in poor condition, and wastewater and wastewater are not utilized to the same extent as in Israel.
During the Oslo process in the 1990s, Palestinian and Israeli water delegation negotiations were formed, with a preliminary agreement on water consumption. A definitive agreement between the parties has not been reached.
The large stream of fresh water from the 25-mile-long Jordan River, which flows up into the Lebanese mountains and passes Lake Gennesaret, has contributed to a declining water level in the Dead Sea. In 2013, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians signed an agreement to build a Red Sea water pipeline in the Jordanian area. Through a sequel 2015, the Palestinians would be allowed to buy fresh water from Israel. The channel would further enable the construction of two hydropower plants in Jordan. Fresh water would be created by desalination in the vicinity of the Jordanian city of Aqaba and salt water would then be directed to the Dead Sea. The financing of the project has not been resolved and the construction start has had to wait.
In the Gaza Strip, saline penetration into the groundwater is a growing problem. There are international aid funds set aside to build desalination plants, but experts who the news agency Reuters spoke with in 2019 made the assessment that it will take several years before the work can be completed.