On 7 June, Dr. Patrick Huntjens spoke at the Roundtable on ‘Water Security and Diplomacy in the Middle East: An Opportunity for Closer EU-Israel Cooperation?’. Other panelists included Oded Fixler, Deputy Director General of the Israel Water Authority, Alexandros Yannis, Senior Expert for Energy and Water Diplomacy of the European External Action Service and Shuli Davidovich, Minister and Deputy Head of the Mission of Israel to the European Union.
Dr. Huntjens spoke on the issues concerning water security in the Middle East. He highlighted the connection between low levels of water security with the low levels of development which serve to create the conditions that can lead to human security issues. The decreased availability of water and food, resulting in human insecurity, he argued, has the potential to intensify the likelihood of violent radicalization.
Furthermore, Dr. Huntjens emphasized the importance of water diplomacy and predicted an increasingly important role in preventing, mitigating and resolving the growing water tensions. He named the examples of formal discussions, informal dialogues, and the building of relationships at the grassroots level as measures that can be undertaken to prevent or peacefully resolve conflicts related to water.
Looking ahead to the future of EU-Israel relations on water security, Dr. Huntjens acknowledged the economic and security benefits for Israel, located in one of the driest regions in the world, if the country shares its experience with developing countries, the EU and even more so, the Arab world. He concluded that only regional integration will bring the needed prosperity and stability to the region.