Question of Palestine home
6 April 1990
Item 35 of the preliminary list*
THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Letter dated 6 April 1990 from the Chargé d'affaires a.i. of the
Permanent Mission of Lebanon to the United Nations addressed to
On instructions from my Government, I have the honour to transmit to you, enclosed herewith, the text of an explanatory note concerning Israel's intentions with respect to the water resources of southern Lebanon.
I should be grateful if you would have this letter and its annex circulated as a document of the General Assembly, under item 35 of the preliminary list, and of the Security Council.
(Signed) Chawki CHOUERI
Charge d'affaires a.i.
lanatory note concerning Israel's intentions with respect
to the water resources of southern Lebanon
The water resources of southern Lebanon have always been the object of increasingly ill-concealed envy on the part of Israel. This is apparent from the many statements Israel has made and the many projects it has launched, invoking historical claims and economic and religious arguments. It is common knowledge that Israel currently consumes around 90 per cent of the water resources available to it (or 165 million cubic metres). It is moreover in this sense that the statement has to be understood which Ben Gurion made in 1955, to the effect that the Jews were waging a "war of water" against the Arabs: guaranteeing its water supplies is one of the corner-stones of Israel's national security.
Since the water resources available to Israel are limited, it has to restrict its ambitions with regard to Jewish immigration into the country, and this is why Israel is seeking to take possession of water resources located outside the occupied territory by launching plans and projects aimed at enabling it to help itself to Arab water resources. Thus Israel has, ever since it came into being, been seeking, now clandestinely and now openly, to implement these highly suspect projects, notwithstanding certain international political positions which compel it at times to deny the slightest expansionist intention.
The state of the water resources of southern Lebanon may be summarized as follows:
The source of the Wazzani
In 1986, Israel enclosed several hectares of land adjacent to the source, after driving off its Lebanese cultivators. It dug canals leading northward from the source of the Wazzani, allegedly to irrigate the villages of Arkoub located in the "security zone". In 1989, Israel installed six-inch channels leading from the watercourse fed by Aljawz, which is one of the tributaries of the Hassabani, allegedly to supply water to the villages located in the occupied zone of Hassabiye.
The Hassabani and the Wazzani
These two rivers discharge into Lake Houle, which Israel had drained to transform it into cultivated land fed by irrigation canals. Currently, Israel is exploiting all of the waters of the Wazzani and the Hassabani, or 140 million cubic metres a year.
In this respect, it should be recalled that the Arab summit held at Cairo in 1961 had established an agency for exploitation of the Jordan and its tributaries, including the Hassabani and the Wazzani, with a view to exploiting these tributaries and building dams in the Arab territories in the interests of the Arab economy. This project remained on hold until the disaster in 1967. Israel then occupied the project site and took possession of the equipment located there.
Israel's designs on this river are of long standing, as is shown by the counter-project known as the "Coton project" submitted to Johnston in 1954, by which it sought to divert 400 million cubic metres, or 55 per cent of the waters of the Litani, leaving to the rightful owner - Lebanon - only 45 per cent.
Israel's occupation of the "security Zone", in violation of the resolutions of the international community calling upon it to withdraw from the zone immediately, confirms that Israel has still not renounced its old ambitions. In occupying this region, Israel is also helping itself to 30 kilometres of the Litani, which flows at an average altitude of between 617 and 540 metres. That said, no pumping station and no water diversion installation have been reported along the occupied part of this river. However, the settlement projects adopted by Israel, particularly following the wave of immigration from the Soviet Union and the need to develop the irrigation and drinking water supply system to which it gives rise, constitute a source of concern, in that there is a risk of Israel being encouraged to move on to action and thus threaten our water resources. .
Connection of the water supply system of neighbouring Lebanese villages with the Israeli system
In 1983, Israel completed the connection of the water supply system for the neighbouring Lebanese villages to that of Galilee in occupied Palestine. In this connection, it should be recalled that the Lebanese network is itself fed by the waters of the Litani.
The Permanent Mission of Lebanon wishes to affirm the following:
1. Israel's ambitions are not confined to the water resources, but extend to tile the lands of Lebanon.
2. The Litani is in Israel's eyes not only a source of water supply but also a redoubtable obstacle which is difficult to cross and could thus serve as a natural line of defence alongside all the other security zones that it has seized to the west, the sea; to the east, the Jordan and the Golan; to the south, the Sinai, that ocean of sand; and to the north the Litani and its deep gorges.
3. Lebanon needs all its water resources, both to irrigate its lands and to supply its towns and villages with drinking water. The Israeli allegations that Lebanon does not need the water of the Litani, which go to waste in the sea, are false. The reality is that Israel's covetousness constitutes an obstacle to the installation of water management works in Lebanon, particularly on the Litani, which at one point runs only 7 kilometres from the frontiers of occupied Palestine.
Thus, as far back as 1954, the Lebanese Government had drawn up a project for integrated management of the Litani providing for irrigation works and for the installation of various industrial facilities. For this purpose, it had constructed a dam with a capacity of 500 million cubic metres and built a hydroelectric power station beside it. As for the irrigation works, their execution has marked time because of the situation prevailing in Lebanon.