Since Israel's occupation of the Palestinian lands in 1967, it has controlled all water sources, surface and underground. It issued a series of military orders according to which the water was made state property, and it is only permitted to use it with special permits granted by the military governor. It restricted the work of the existing Jerusalem Water Authority and the West Bank Water Department. The Bethlehem Water and Sewerage Authority was established by another military order in 1972.

This control continued despite the change in the political situation that accompanied the mutual recognition between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel, and the signing of the Declaration of Principles Agreement in September 1993 (Oslo 1 - Gaza - Jericho first) (according to which the Palestinian National Authority was announced with its existing institutions and legal jurisdiction over each of the West Bank) West Bank and Gaza Strip, except for the areas that include settlements (Area C) in the West Bank and the areas occupied by settlements in the Gaza Strip before the unilateral disengagement, in which Israel evacuated the strip of settlements in 2005).
The duration of the interim agreement was five years, during which it was supposed to reach a just and comprehensive solution to the core issues of the conflict, namely: borders, refugees, settlements, Jerusalem, and water rights.

With regard to Palestinian water rights, the file was dealt with in the Interim Agreement (Oslo 2) in Article 40 of Annex III (Economic Cooperation Protocol to the Interim Agreement entitled (Water and Sewage)), according to which Israel recognized Palestinian water rights in the West Bank. And postponed the understanding on that to the final status negotiations. Under this clause, a total of 118 million cubic meters of existing resources (springs and wells) were allocated to the Palestinian side in the West Bank. The Palestinian side was supposed to be able to dig wells that would add to the total amount used, an additional 80 million cubic meters from the three West Bank basins.


 The Palestinian National Authority was unable to drill wells, except for a group that gave nearly 30 million cubic meters out of 80 million cubic meters, which were supposed to be drilled during the transitional period (the five-year life of the interim agreement). This was an additional 30 million cubic meters at the expense of the existing wells and springs. In sum, the productivity of wells and springs was 96 million cubic meters (according to the 2011 census).

The lack of adequate quantities of water for Palestinian citizens is a permanent problem, which arose as a result of Israeli policies and practices based on discrimination, deprivation and exploitation of Palestinian water resources; This is reflected in the prominent disparity in access to water between Israelis and Palestinians. Per capita Palestinian water consumption in the territories of the State of Palestine is about 72 liters per person per day (far below the level recommended by the World Health Organization, which is 100 liters per person per day). While the per capita Israeli consumption of water is about 300 liters per day; That is, it increases by about four times; Indeed, Palestinians live in some rural communities at much less than 72 liters per person per day, and in some cases barely more than 20 liters per day, which is the minimum amount recommended by the World Health Organization to respond to emergencies.
Israel controls Palestinian access to water, and imposes restrictions on the amount of available water, in a manner that is unfair and unable to meet life's needs; It also controls 90% of the shared water resources and puts measures and obstacles on the Palestinians in exploiting the remaining amount, by controlling water and land resources, restrictions on the movement of people and goods, and the existence of a complex system to obtain the necessary permits for Palestinians from the Joint Water Committee with Israeli approval, and from the army The Israeli and other authorities, before implementing water-related projects in the territories of the Palestinian state; This leads to delaying the implementation of water and sanitation projects, in addition to the unlawfully demolishing policies of Palestinian water installations, such as: artesian wells and rainwater harvesting wells in Areas B and C.

The unfair occupation measures go back to before the signing of the agreements with Israel, keeping the agreements to the status quo at that time, with the adoption of an unequal management structure that guarantees actual Israeli control over water resources in the West Bank, through the "Joint Water Committee", which does not approve any projects , Except with the consent of both parties; This would guarantee the Israeli veto power over any Palestinian water projects.

The Palestinian National Authority was only responsible for managing the insufficient amount of water that was allocated for Palestinian use, and for maintaining and repairing water infrastructure in areas of its long-neglected jurisdiction, which had become in dire need of repair. In addition to this, the Palestinian Authority has become responsible for paying for the water that Israel extracts from the shared groundwater reserve and sells it to the Palestinians, which accounts for about half of the water used by Palestinians in the West Bank .