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close this bookHydropolitics along the Jordan River. Scarce Water and Its Impact on the Arab-Israeli Conflict (UNU, 1995, 272 pages)
close this folder2. Hydrography and history
close this folderHistory - Water conflict and cooperation
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe emergence of agriculture and nationalism
View the documentPre-1923: The shaping of modern nations
View the document1923-1948: Nationalism, immigration, and "economic absorptive capacity"
View the document1948-1964: Unilateral development and the Johnston negotiations
View the document1964-1982: "Water Wars" and territorial adjustments
View the documentIsrael, the West Bank, and Gaza
View the document1982-Present: Hydrologic limits and peacemaking
View the documentHydroconspiracy theories: The "hydraulic imperative," and "hydronationalism"
View the documentConclusions: Historic summary and lessons for the future

Pre-1923: The shaping of modern nations

Even before modern Jewish nationalism, known now as Zionism, began to be formulated at the end of the nineteenth century, the longings for a "return to Zion" were occasionally given practical outlets, sometimes aided by Christians who saw an ingathering of the Jewish exiles as a necessary precondition to the Biblical "end days," the preordained series of events that would lead to the "second coming". Much Jewish settlement activity centred around modernizing local agricultural practices in Palestine. The British Society for the Promotion of Jewish Agricultural Labour in the Holy Land, for example, was headed in the 1850s by the British Consul to Jerusalem and his wife, and was marginally successful in establishing land reclamation on a small scale, including an irrigation project and "Abraham's Vineyard." The Consul also submitted a detailed scheme to the British Foreign Secretary "to persuade Jews in a large body to settle here as agriculturalists on the soil .. . in partnership with the Arab peasantry" (Tuchman 1956, 219). "As the word 'persuade' indicates," Barbara Tuchman points out, "the time was still not ripe."

However, by the latter half of the nineteenth century, Jewish immigration to Palestine was beginning in earnest. Land was purchased for farms, colonies, and settlements centring around the towns of Safed and Jaffa, and in the Judaean Hills and Galilee. Financing for these endeavours came initially from such wealthy diaspora families as the

Montefiores and Rothschilds. Eventually, however, sufficient people were involved, both in funding and in immigration, for organizations such as Chovevei Zion (Lovers of Zion) and, later, the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish National Fund, to be established to streamline fundraising and to give political structure to the movement (Sacher 1916, 138-142).

In the twentieth century, as the developing nationalisms of both Arabs and Jews become more clearly defined, and with subsequent population pressures accelerated by immigration, water has continued to be a critical strategic resource.

When, after the first Zionist Congress in Basle in 1897, the idea of creating a Jewish State in Palestine (which by then had been under Ottoman rule for 400 years) began to crystallize in the plans of European Jewry, Theodore Herzl, considered to be the father of modern Zionism, travelled to the region to assess the practical possibilities. In Jerusalem, Herzl met the German Kaiser, whose influence with the Ottoman Sultan he sought to enlist. Barbara Tuchman describes the meeting in 1896 outside the Mikveh Israel colony:

The Kaiser rode up, guarded by Turkish outriders, reined in his horse, shook hands with Herzl to the awe of the crowd, remarked on the heat, pronounced Palestine a land with a future, "but it needs water, plenty of water," shook hands again, and rode off. (Tuchman 1956, 291)

Frustrated by the lack of enthusiasm on the part of the Turks for Jewish settlement, Herzl turned to the British, whose control of Egypt extended into the northern Sinai Peninsula. In 1902, Herzl suggested to Joseph Chamberlain, the British Colonial Secretary, that Jewish colonization and massive irrigation of the territory around El-Arish, in the northern Sinai Peninsula, would create a "buffer state" between Egypt and Turkey, helping to protect British interests in the Suez Canal (Ra'anan 1955, 36-37). Although Chamberlain was supportive, Lord Cromer, head of the Anglo-Egyptian Administration in Cairo, was sceptical of the chances for success of Jewish colonization and wary of intimidating the Turks, with whom the legal boundaries in the area were unclear. Cromer finally vetoed the project in 1903, claiming that Nile water, which would be necessary for irrigation, could not be spared.

Even without commitments for independent nations, both Jewish and Arab populations began to swell in turn-of-the-century Palestine, the former in waves of immigration from Yemen as well as from Europe, and the latter attracted to new regional' prosperity from other parts of the Arab world (Sachar 1969; McCarthy 1990). According to Justin McCarthy (1990), Palestine contained 340,000 people in 1878 and 722,000 by 1915 (see appendix I, maps 7 and 8).

During World War I, as it became clear that the Ottoman Empire was crumbling, the heirs apparent began to jockey for positions of favour with the inhabitants of the region. The French had inroads with the Maronite Catholics of Lebanon and therefore focused on the northern territories of Lebanon and Syria. The British, meanwhile, began to seek coalition with the Arabs from Palestine and Arabia - whose military assistance against the Turks they desired - and with the Jews of Palestine, both for military assistance and for the political support of diaspora Jewry (Ra'anan 1955).

As the course of the war became clear, French and British, Arabs and Jews, all began to refine their territorial interests; the location of the region's scarce water resources was a critical factor in the decision-making process of each party.

A detailed description of the lengthy process that ultimately led to the final determination of boundaries for the French and British mandates, which, in turn, informed the borders of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Israel, is beyond the scope of this work, but can be found in the works of Ra'anan (1955), Sachar (1969; 1979; 1987b), Hof (1985), and Fromkin (1989). However, since the roots of subsequent water conflicts lie in the delineation of modern borders, it is important to examine in some detail the process and results, as well as the motives of each of the actors involved. The following outline of events leading up to the Anglo-French Convention in 1923 emphasizes only certain decisions, and is based on the works mentioned above. The interested reader is referred to that literature for more detail (see maps 9 -12).

1913. French and Lebanese discussed the creation of a "Greater Lebanon" under French control, which would include the Beka'a Valley and the vilayet of Beirut, and which included northern Palestine (Ra'anan 1955, 72).

22 March 1915. T.E. Lawrence wrote to London from Cairo suggesting that he "pull them [the Arab tribes] all together and roll up Syria by way of the Hejaz in the name of the Sharif [Hussein] ... and biff the French out of all hope of Syria" (Ra'anan 1955, 64).

May 1915. The "Damascus Protocol" was drafted in Syria by secret Arab nationalist organizations insisting on independence for the Hejaz, Iraq, Syria, and Palestine, in exchange for assisting the British. In July, Emir Hussein of the Hejaz communicated these demands to the British High Commissioner in Egypt, Sir Henry McMahon. In October, McMahon finally agreed, but insisted that certain areas had to be excluded because of British or French interests, namely "the country west of Aleppo, Hams, Hama and Damascus," leaving unclear what the status of Palestine was to be (Ra'anan 1955, 65).

9 March 1916. The Sykes-Picot Agreement was signed between the British and the French, dividing the Middle East into regions that would be designated as French (including Lebanon and the northern Galilee), Frenchinfluence (Syria), British (Egypt, Iraq, and the port of Haifa/Acre), Britishinfluence (northern Saudi Arabia and Jordan), and international (the remainder of Palestine) (Ra'anan 1955, 68).

The spheres of influence of the Sykes-Picot Agreement would have left the watersheds in the region divided in a particularly convoluted manner: the Litani and the Jordan headwaters to just south of the Huleh region would be French; the Sea of Galilee would be divided between international and French zones; the Yarmuk Valley would be split between British and French; and the lower stem of the Jordan would be international on the west bank and British on the east.

Because of these divisions, and because there is no mention of water per se in the literature on these negotiations, I suggest that other factors, such as the locations of rail and oil lines, holy places, and political debts and alliances, took precedence and that water resources was not an issue to this point in the border demarcation process (see Ra'anan 1955 and Fromkin 1989 for thorough discussions of these other factors). After the Sykes-Picot Agreement, however, and as the outcome of the war began to become clear, each entity with national claims in the region increasingly included water resources in its geographic reasoning, particularly after the end of World War I in 1918.

7 February 1917. Disturbed by rumours of the still-secret Franco-British agreement, Zionist leaders met Sir Mark Sykes to express opposition to condominium or internationalization of Palestine in favour of a British Protectorate; they also insisted on full rights of Jewish immigration and that Jews in Palestine be recognized as a nation (Memorandum of Meeting, in Sachar 1987b, vol. 8).

2 November 1917. The Balfour Declaration was approved by the British Cabinet:

His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country. (Reproduced in Sachar 1987b, vol. 8)

Conflicting interpretations of what was meant by "national home," or even by "Palestine" (at the time including both sides of the Jordan River), and the apparent contradiction between "facilitating this object" and "not prejudicing the ... rights of existing non-Jewish communities," would lead to contention for years to come.

September-December, 1918. Because of British conquests in Palestine, the British no longer felt overly obligated to the French and new political interests began to be incorporated in the delineation of borders. Although they did not accede totally to Zionist requests, the British did deviate from the Sykes-Picot line and adopted the biblical "Dan to Beersheba" for Palestine, as based on a map of "Palestine under David and Solomon" (Hof 1985,11), in negotiations with the French over the temporary boundaries of "Occupied Enemy Territorial Administrations (OETA)," but held open the possibility that

Whatever the administrative sub-divisions, we must recover for Palestine, be it Hebrew or Arab, the boundaries up to the Litani on the coast, and across to Banias, the old Dan, or Huleh in the interior. (Lord Curzon, cited in Ingrams 1972, 49)

French Premier Georges Clemenceau agreed that Palestine, defined at the time in the temporary borders of OETA, should be exclusively British (Hof 1985, 7) (see appendix I, map 10).

1919. With the war over, and as preparations for the Paris peace talks began at Versailles in early 1919, border requirements were again refined by each side, as follows.

Zionist position

The Zionists began to formulate their desired boundaries for the "national home," to be determined by three criteria - historic, strategic, and economic considerations (Zionist publications cited in Ra'anan 1955, 86).

Historic concerns coincided roughly with British allusions to the biblical "Dan to Beersheba." These were considered to be minimum requirements, which had to be supplemented with territory that would allow military and economic security. Military security required desert areas to the south and east as well as the Beka'a Valley, a gateway in the north between the Lebanon Mountains and Mount Hermon.

Economic security was defined by water resources. The entire Zionist programme of immigration and settlement required water for large-scale irrigation and, in a land with no fossil fuels, for hydropower. The plans were "completely dependent" on the acquisition of "the headwaters of the Jordan, the Litani River, the snows of Hermon, the Yarmuk and its tributaries, and the Jabbok" (Ra'anan 1955, 87).

In a flurry of communication between world Zionist leaders, the aspects of historic, strategic, and economic security became increasingly linked with the Jordan headwaters. These leaders of diverse backgrounds (including Chaim Weizmann, a British chemist whose wartime contribution of the gunpowder-refining process to the Allies granted him a certain status among British decision makers; Aaron Aaronsohn, a Palestine-born agriculturalist who had undertaken intelligence operations on Turkish troop movements for the British; and Louis Brandeis, a US Supreme Court Justice) each became demographer, cartographer, hydrologist, and strategist, in preparation for the Peace Conference.

The guiding force in refining the thinking on the necessary boundaries was Aaron Aaronsohn. He was in charge of an agricultural experimental station at Atlit on the Mediterranean coast, where his research focused on weather-resistant crops and dry-farming techniques. Convinced that the modern agricultural practices that would fuel Jewish immigration were incompatible with "the slothful, brutish Ottoman regime" (Sachar 1979,103), he concluded that Zionist settlement objectives required alliance with the incoming Allied Forces. Aaronsohn initiated contact with the British to establish a Jewish spy network in Palestine, which would report on Turkish positions and troop movements. Perhaps because of his training both in agriculture and in security matters, he became the first to delineate boundary requirements specifically with regard to future water needs. Aaronsohn's "The Boundaries of Palestine" (27 January 1919, unpublished, Zionist Archives), drafted in less than a day, argued that

In Palestine, like in any other country of arid and semi-arid character, animal and plant life and, therefore, the whole economic life directly depends on the available water supply. It is, therefore, of vital importance not only to secure all water resources already feeding the country, but also to insure the possession of whatever can conserve and increase these water - and eventually power - resources. The main water resources of Palestine come from the North, from the two mighty mountain-masses - the Lebanon range, and the Hermon ...

The boundary of Palestine in the North and in the North East is thus dictated by the extension of the Hermon range and its water basins. The only scientific and economic correct lines of delineation are the water-sheds.

Aaronsohn then described the proposed boundaries in detail, as delineated by the local watersheds. He acknowledged that, with the exception of the Litani, the Lebanon range sends no important water source towards Palestine and "cannot, therefore, be claimed to be a 'Spring of Life' to the country." It is the Hermon, he argued, that is "the real 'Father of Waters' and cannot be severed from it without striking at the very root of its economic life."

Returning to the Litani, however, Aaronsohn suggested that

[it] is of vital importance to northern Palestine both as a supply of water and of power. Unfortunately its springs lie in the Lebanon. Some kind of international agreement is essential in order that the Litani may be fully utilised for the development of North Palestine and the Lebanon.

Aaronsohn's rationale and boundary proposals were adopted by the official Zionist delegation to the Peace Conference, led by Chaim Weizmann. The "Boundaries" section of the "Statement of the Zionist Organization Regarding Palestine," which paraphrased Aaronson's proposals, read, in part (see appendix II for the complete text):

The economic life of Palestine, like that of every other semi-arid country depends on the available water supply. It is therefore, of vital importance not only to secure all water resources already feeding the country, but also to be able to conserve and control them at their sources.

The Hermon is Palestine's real "Father of Waters" and cannot be severed from it without striking at the very root of its economic life ... Some international arrangement must be made whereby the riparian rights of the people dwelling south of the Litani River may be fully protected. Properly cared for these head waters can be made to serve in the development of the Lebanon as well as of Palestine. (Proposals dated 3 February 1919, Weizmann Letters 1968, appendix II)

Interestingly, Aaronsohn thought his ideas had been badly mangled in the Proposals, perhaps because he was not included in the final drafting. In an angry letter to Weizmann, he complained that the draft was "a disgrace and a calamity" (emphasis Aaronsohn's), and expressed shock that, for one of the delegates, "a 'watershed' is the same as a 'thalweg.' Incredible, but true" (unpublished fetter, 16 February 1919, Weizmann Archives).

In June 1919 Aaronsohn died in a plane crash (at the time deemed by the Zionists "mysterious") on his way to the Peace Conference and the Zionist proposals were submitted without revision. Nevertheless, the importance of the region's water resources remained embedded in the thinking of the Zionist establishment. "So far as the northern boundary is concerned," wrote Chaim Weizmann later that year, "the guiding consideration with us has been economic, and 'economic' in this connection means 'water supply"' (18 September 1919, Weizmann Letters, 1968).

Arab position

The Arab delegation to the Peace Conference was led by the Emir Feisal, younger son of Emir Hussein of the Hejaz. Working with T.E. Lawrence, Hussein and his sons had led Arab irregulars against the Turks in Arabia and eastern Palestine. After the war, Feisal had developed a relationship with Chaim Weizmann as both prepared for the Peace Conference. After a meeting in 1918, Feisal said in an interview

The two main branches of the Semitic family, Arabs and Jews, understand one another, and I hope that as a result of interchange of ideas at the Peace Conference, which will be guided by ideals of self-determination and nationality, each nation will make definite progress towards the realization of its aspirations. (Cited in Esco Foundation 1947,139)

Feisal also initially expressed support for Jewish immigration to Palestine, in part because he saw it as useful for his own nationalist aspirations. At a banquet given in his honour by Lord Rothschild in 1918, he pointed out that "no state could be built up in the Near East without borrowing from the ideas, knowledge and experience of Europe, and the Jews were the intermediaries who could best translate European experience to suit Arab life" (Esco Foundation 1947, 140).

In a meeting later that year, Feisal tried to enlist Weizmann's support against French policies in Syria. Weizmann in turn outlined Zionist aspirations and "asserted his respect for Arab communal rights" (Sachar 1969, 385). The two also agreed that all water and farm boundary questions should be settled directly between the two parties.

Feisal and Weizmann formalized their understanding to support each other's national ambitions on 3 January 1919, in a document which expressed mutual friendship and recognition of the Balfour Declaration, and stated that

All necessary measures shall be taken to encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale, and as quickly as possible to settle Jewish immigrants upon the land through closer settlement and intensive cultivation of the soil. In taking such measures the Arab peasant and tenant farmers shall be protected in their rights, and shall be assisted in forwarding their economic development. (Original reproduced in Weizmann Letters, 1968)

These undertakings were (Feisal hand-wrote in the margin) provided that Arab requests were granted. "If changes are made," he wrote, "I cannot be answerable for failure to carry out this agreement."

The Arab requests were spelled out in a memorandum dated 1 January 1919. Because the territory in question was so large (including Syria, Mesopotamia, and the Arabian Peninsula), geographically diverse and, for the most part well watered, it is not surprising that water resources played little part in the Arab deliberations. On the basis of a combination of level of development and ethnic considerations, Feisal requested the following (Esco Foundation, 1947):

  1. That Syria, agriculturally and industrially advanced, and considered politically developed, should be allowed to manage her own affairs;
  2. That Mesopotamia, "underdeveloped and thinly inhabited by semi-nomadic peoples, would have to be buttressed ... by a great foreign power," but governed by Arabs chosen by the "selective rather than the elective principle";
  3. That the Hejaz and Arabian Peninsula, mainly a tribal area suited to patriarchal conditions, should retain its complete independence.

Two areas were specifically excluded: these were Lebanon, "because the majority of the inhabitants were Christian," and which had its own delegates, and Palestine which, because of its "universal character was left to one side for mutual consideration of all parties interested" (Esco Foundation 1947,138).

Once testimony had been heard at Versailles, as the peace talks continued, culminating at San Remo in 1920, the decisions were left to the British and the French as to where the boundaries between their mandates would be drawn.

The French supported the Lebanese claim that the "historic and natural" boundaries of Greater Lebanon should include the sources of the Jordan River (Sachar 1979, 117), including the Galilee region. They claimed that the Litani was needed for development in Lebanon, whereas the snows of the Hermon provided water for Damascus.

In 1919, the British first suggested the "Meinertzhagen Line" as a boundary. This line, which was based chiefly on British security requirements, was similar in the north to that in the Zionist proposals, and was rejected by the French for similar reasons. In September the British put forward the compromise "Deauville Proposal," which granted Palestine less territory than the Zionists sought but which still included the southern bank of the Litani and the Banias headwaters. At the time, Banias was thought (incorrectly) to be the biblical Dan, thereby allowing the British to remain true to their claim of Palestine "from Dan to Beersheba" (Hof 1985, 9) (see appendix I, map 11, for the area of dispute between French and British claims). Finally, to meet French objections as far as possible, the British proposed a border running north from Acre to the Litani bend, then east to Mount Hermon, which would increase Lebanese territory but leave the headwaters in Palestine (Ra'anan 1955, 123).

Although the French rejected each of these proposals, Phillipe Berthelot, the Foreign Minister and negotiator to an Anglo-French conference on the Middle East in December 1919, suggested that, although Prime Minister Clemenceau insisted on the Sykes-Picot line, he was prepared

... to agree that one-third of the waterpower of the waters flowing from Mount Hermon southwards into the Palestine of the Sykes-Picot agreement should be allotted to the Zionists under an economic arrangement with France. The French could do no more than this. (Cited in Ra'anan 1955, 125)

At a meeting on 17 February 1920, the British, represented by Prime Minister David Lloyd George, suggested that "all Jews were unanimously agreed that the sources of Hermon and the head-waters of Jordan were vital to the existence .. . of Palestine" (Ra'anan 1955, 128). Without these headwaters, Lloyd George argued, the Mandate for Palestine would be a "heavy burden" for Britain. If France could not concede the point, he argued, United States President Wilson might be asked to arbitrate.

Berthelot responded that "the snows of Hermon dominated the town of Damascus and could not be excluded from Syria, nor could the waters of the Litani, which irrigated the most fertile regions of Syria." But he did suggest that the claims to the Jordan might be more admissible and that, while France could not concede a frontier following the watersheds of the Syrian and Palestinian rivers, "some arrangement might be made for the joint use of the waters in question" (Ra'anan 1955, 129).

As to United States mediation, the French refused, claiming that "President Wilson was entirely guided by Judge Brandeis, who held very decided views." Brandeis had, in fact, sent a telegram to the conference, endorsed by President Wilson, which read in part, that "rational northern and eastern boundaries are indispensable to a self-sustaining community and economic development of the country. North Palestine must include the Litani River watersheds, and the Hermon on the east ... Less than this would produce mutilation of the promised home" (unpublished telegram, 16 February 1920, Zionist Archives).

Lloyd George and Berthelot finally fell back on "from Dan to Beersheba," as described in an atlas written by Adam Smith, a Scottish theological professor, where ancient Samaria only brushes against the Litani, and has a boundary on the west coast more southern even than the Sykes-Picot line (Hof 1985, 11).

In June 1920, France agreed to a compromise: Palestine's northern boundary should be a line drawn from Ras en-Naqura to a point on the Jordan just north of Metulla and Banias-Dan, and then to the northern shore of Lake Hula, running from there along the Jordan, down the middle of the Sea of Galilee to the Yarmuk, where it would meet the Sykes-Picot line. Although these borders included all existing Jewish settlements within Palestine, most of the water resources would remain in Syria (Ra'anan 1955, 133).

At the San Remo Conference in April 1920, agreement was reached where Great Britain was granted the mandates to Palestine and Mesopotamia, and France received the mandate for Syria (including Lebanon). During the remainder of the year, last-minute appeals were made both by the British and by the Zionists for the inclusion of the Litani in Palestine or, at the least, for the right to divert a portion of the river into the Jordan basin for hydropower. The French refused, offering a bleak picture of the future without an agreement and suggested (referring to British and Zionist ambiguity as to what was meant by a "national home"), "Vous barbotterez si vous le voulez, mais vous ne barbotterez pas à nos frais" (Butler and Bury 1958, vol. VIII, p. 387).

On 4 December 1920, a final agreement was reached in principle on the boundary issue, which addressed, mainly, French and British rights to railways and oil pipelines, and incorporated the French proposal for the northern boundaries of six months earlier. The French delegation did promise that the Jewish settlements would have free use of the waters of the Upper Jordan and the Yarmuk, although they would remain in French hands (Ra'anan 1955, 136). The Litani was excluded from this arrangement. Article 8 of the Franco-British Convention, therefore, included a call for a joint committee to examine the irrigation and hydroelectric potential of the Upper Jordan and Yarmuk "after the needs of the territories under French Mandate," and added that

In connection with this examination the French government will give its representatives the most liberal instructions for the employment of the surplus of these waters for the benefit of Palestine. (Cited in Hof 1985, 14)

The final boundaries between the French and British mandates, which later became the borders between Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, were worked out by an Anglo-French commission set up to trace the frontier on the spot. Their results were submitted in February 1922 and signed by the British and French governments in March 1923 (Ra'anan 1955; Hof 1985). The frontier would run from Ras en-Naqura inland in an easterly direction along the watershed between the rivers flowing into the Jordan and into the Litani; the line was then to turn sharply north to include in Palestine a "finger" of territory near Metulla and the eastern sources of the Jordan.

Rather than include the Banias spring within Palestine, as in the French proposal of six months earlier, the border ran parallel to, and 100 m south of, the existing path from Metullah to the Banias (see appendix I, map 12). The French insisted on inclusion of this road in its entirety to facilitate east-west transportation and communication within its mandate. This northern border meant that the entire Litani and the Jordan headwaters of the Ayoun and Hasbani would originate in Lebanon before flowing into Palestine. The Banias spring, meanwhile, would originate and flow for 100 m in Syrian territory, then into Palestine. As Palestine had a promise of water use, and also access to the Banias Heights, a small hill that over looked the spring, the fact that the actual spring lay outside the boundaries was not of immediate concern. Of the headwaters of the Jordan, however, only the Dan spring remained entirely within Palestine.

From Banias, the border turned south towards the Sea of Galilee, along the foothills of the Golan Heights, parallel and just east (sometimes within 50 m) of the Huleh Lake and the Jordan River. Rather than passing through the middle of the Sea of Galilee, the border ran just east of its shores (even if the level were to rise because of a proposed dam), leaving the entire lake, the town of El-Hama, and a small triangle just south of the Jordan's outflow, within the territory of Palestine. These latter two were already included in Zionist plans for water diversion and hydroelectricity generation. These changes were beneficial to Palestine's hydrostrategic positioning and, although they were made mainly for administrative reasons, "to make customs inspection easier," it was also expressed that the development plans should proceed without international complication (Ra'anan 1955,138,143). Nevertheless, according to the agreement, fishing and navigation rights on the lake were retained by the inhabitants of Syria.

At the Yarmuk, the border went eastward along the river, meeting the Sykes-Picot line, into the Syrian desert and south of the Jebel Druze.

The final agreement made no mention of joint access to French-controlled waters.

Although the location of water resources had been an important, sometimes overriding, issue with some of the actors involved in determining the boundaries of these territories, it is clear in the outcome that other issues took precedence over the need for unified water basin development. These other factors ranged from the geostrategic (the location of roads and oil pipelines), to political alliances and relationships between British, French, Jews, and Arabs, to how well versed one or another negotiator was in biblical geography. The final boundaries are the result of competing needs and abilities of each of the people and entities involved in the negotiations. Because of limited land and resources, no one political entity could achieve all of its economic, historic, and strategic requirements. hood. Because the boundaries had been drawn in a way unfavourable to Palestine, they ensured a bitter conflict, by making it impossible to arrive at a compromise solution on the lines of a clear territorial separation between the two nations. (Ra'anan 1955, 141)

The results sowed friction for generations. For Palestine, by failing to approximate any natural geographic frontiers, the borders left the country perennially exposed to armed invasion. This heritage of economic and military vulnerability was to curse the Palestine mandate, and later the entire Middle East, for decades to come. (Sachar 1979, 117)