Using the case of the Israeli Water Law, passed between 1955 and 1959, this article makes three arguments about the relationship between legal discourse and management of natural resources. First, it argues that categories (natural and cultural) that find their way into law do not necessarily correspond with reality; rather, they should be seen as the conclusion of a process of social construction, marking winners and losers in a game of interpretation and of politics. Second, once these categories are codified, once they become part of the legal discourse, they tend to become powerful instruments in structures of power; they shape natural and political orders, despite contestations and varying interpretations. Third, one of the sources of power is the fact that these social and natural categories are articulated together in ways that make legal codes seem extremely commonsensical—what Antonio Gramsci describes as the most powerful form of ideology. On the substantive level, this article argues that the Israeli Water Law of 1959 articulates together three categories: water scarcity as “fact”; the strong and centralized state as an appropriate form of political organization; and citizenship of the modern nation-state as the ultimate fulfillment of Jewish subjectivity. These categories and their articulation with one another shaped the water law into a strong instrument in Israeli structures of power that solidified the Jewish character of state institutions and contributed to the marginalization of Israel's Palestinian citizens.

S'appuyant sur le cas de la législation israélienne sur l'eau, adoptée entre 1955 et 1959, cet article avance trois propositions sur la relation entre le discours juridique et la gestion des ressources naturelles. Premièrement, il soutient que les catégories - naturelles et culturelles - inclues dans le Droit, ne correspondent pas nécessairement avec la réalité ; au contraire, elles doivent être comprises comme le résultat d'un processus de construction sociale, caractérisant les gagnants et les perdants autour des enjeux d'interprétation et de politique. Deuxièmement, une fois ces catégories codifiées et intégrées au discours juridique, elles tendent à devenir de puissants instruments dans les structures de pouvoir, elles façonnent les ordres naturels et politiques, en dépit de contestations et d'interprétations divergentes. Troisièmement, une des sources de pouvoir est le fait que ces catégories sociales et naturelles soient articulées de façon à produire des codes juridiques qui paraissent émaner du bon-sens commun — ce qu'Antonio Gramsci décrit comme la forme la plus puissante de l'idéologie. Quant au contenu, cet article montre que la loi israélienne sur l'eau de 1959 met en relation trois catégories : la pénurie d'eau comme un « fait »; un État fort et centralisé comme une forme appropriée d'organisation politique ; et enfin la citoyenneté de l'État-nation moderne comme l'accomplissement ultime de la subjectivité juive. Ces catégories et leur articulation les unes aux autres ont façonné la législation sur l'eau en un vigoureux instrument des structures de pouvoir israéliennes, consolidant le caractère juif des institutions étatiques et contribuant à la marginalisation des citoyens palestiniens d'Israël.

Alatout, S. 2000. Water Balances in Palestine: Water and political cultures in the Middle East. In Water balances in the eastern Mediterranean, ed. David Brooks and Ozay Mehmet, 59-84. Ottawa: IDRC.
Water balances in the eastern Mediterranean
(pg. 
59
-
84
)
Alatout, S. 2003. Imagining hydrological boundaries, constructing the nation-state:A “fluid” history of Israel, 1936-1959. Doctoral dissertation, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
Imagining hydrological boundaries, constructing the nation-state: A “fluid” history of Israel, 1936-1959. Doctoral dissertation
Alatout, S. 2007. From water abundance to water scarcity (1936-1956): A “fluid” history of Jewish subjectivity in historic Palestine. In Reapproaching the border: New perspective on the study of Palestine/Israel, ed. M. LeVine and S. Sufian, 199-220. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.
Reapproaching the border: New perspective on the study of Palestine/Israel
(pg. 
199
-
220
)
Aloni, S. 1967. Modern water legislation and development. Paper presented at the International Conference on Water for Peace, Washington, D.C., 23-31 May 1967.
Modern water legislation and development
Althusser, L. 1969. For Marx. New York: Pantheon.
For Marx
Arolosoroff, S. 1977. Water resources development and management in Israel. Kidma 3(2):3-10.
Water resources development and management in Israel
Kidma
, vol. 
3
 (pg. 
3
-
10
)
Avi-Hai, A. 1976. Ben-Gurion, state-builder: Principles and pragmatism, 1948-1963. Jerusalem: Israel Universities Press.
Ben-Gurion, state-builder: Principles and pragmatism
(pg. 
1948
-
1963
)
Avnimelech, Y. 1992. Some considerations about sustainable water and land usage. In Proceeding of The First Israeli Palestinian Conference on the Environmental Challenges Facing Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, ed. R. Twite and R. Menczel, 26-32. Jerusalem: Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information [IPCRI].
Some considerations about sustainable water and land usage
(pg. 
26
-
32
)
Baskin, G., ed. 1993. Water: Conflict or co-operation. Jerusalem: IPCRI.
Water: Conflict or co-operation
Ben-Rafael, E. 1995. The kibbutz in the 1950s: A transformation of identity. In Israel: The first decade of independence, ed. S. Troen and N. Lucas, 265-278. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Israel: The first decade of independence
(pg. 
265
-
278
)
Ben-Meir, M. 1992. Water management policy in Israel: A comprehensive approach. In Water and peace in the Middle East: Proceedings of the First Israeli-Palestinian International Academic Conference on Water, ed. Jad Isaaq and Hillel Shuval, 33-9. Zurich: Elsevier.
Water and peace in the Middle East: Proceedings of the First Israeli-Palestinian International Academic Conference on Water
(pg. 
33
-
9
)
Bou-Zeid, E., and El-Fadel, M. 2002. Climate change and water resources in Lebanon and the Middle East. Journal of Water Resources, Planning, and Management 128:343-55.
Climate change and water resources in Lebanon and the Middle East
Journal of Water Resources, Planning, and Management
, vol. 
128
 (pg. 
343
-
55
)
Bower, L. 1994. Queer acts and the politics of “clear address”: Rethinking law, culture, and community. Law and Society Review 28:1009-34.
Queer acts and the politics of “clear address”: Rethinking law, culture, and community
Law and Society Review
, vol. 
28
 (pg. 
1009
-
34
)
Brenner, N. 2001. The Limits to Scale? Methodological reflections on scalar structuration. Progress in human geography 25:591-614.
The Limits to Scale? Methodological reflections on scalar structuration
Progress in human geography
, vol. 
25
 (pg. 
591
-
614
)
Connolly, W. 1991. Identity/difference: Democratic negotiations of political paradox. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.
Identity/difference: Democratic negotiations of political paradox
Corell, E., Swain, A. 1995. India: The domestic and international politics of water scarcity. In Hydropolitics: Conflicts over water as a development constraint, ed. Leif Ohlsson, 123-48. Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: Zed Books.
Hydropolitics: Conflicts over water as a development constraint
(pg. 
123
-
48
)
Cotton, J. S. 1954. The Fifth Interim Report on Master Plan for Development of Irrigation and Hydroelectric Power in State of Israel. Jerusalem: The Water Department, Ministry of Agriculture.
The Fifth Interim Report on Master Plan for Development of Irrigation and Hydroelectric Power in State of Israel
Cotton, J. S. 1954. Plan for the Development of the Water Resources of the Jordan and Litani River Basins. Jerusalem: Water Department of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Plan for the Development of the Water Resources of the Jordan and Litani River Basins
Cotton, J. S. and Hays, J. 1950. The Second Interim Report on Master Plan for Development of Irrigation and Hydroelectric Power in State of Israel. Jerusalem: The Water Department, Ministry of Agriculture.
The Second Interim Report on Master Plan for Development of Irrigation and Hydroelectric Power in State of Israel
Cotton, J. S. and Hays, J. 1951. The Third Interim Report on Master Plan for Development of Irrigation and Hydroelectric Power in State of Israel. Jerusalem: The Water Department, Ministry of Agriculture.
The Third Interim Report on Master Plan for Development of Irrigation and Hydroelectric Power in State of Israel
Daemmrich, A. 1998. The evidence does not speak for itself: Expert witnesses and the organization of DNA-typing companies. Social Studies of Science 28:741-72.
The evidence does not speak for itself: Expert witnesses and the organization of DNA-typing companies
Social Studies of Science
, vol. 
28
 (pg. 
741
-
72
)
Davis, U., Maks, A., and Richardson, J. 1980. Israel's water policies. Journal of Palestine Studies 9(2):3-32.
Israel's water policies
Journal of Palestine Studies
, vol. 
9
 (pg. 
3
-
32
)
Elmusa, S. 1993. Dividing the common Palestinian-Israeli waters: An international water law approach. Journal of Palestine Studies 22(3):57-77.
Dividing the common Palestinian-Israeli waters: An international water law approach
Journal of Palestine Studies
, vol. 
22
 (pg. 
57
-
77
)
Elmusa, S. 1996. The land-water nexus in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Journal of Palestine Studies 25(3):69-78.
The land-water nexus in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Journal of Palestine Studies
, vol. 
25
 (pg. 
69
-
78
)
Espeland, W. 1994. Legally mediated identity: The National Environmental Policy Act and the bureaucratic construction of interests. Law and Society Review 28:1149-80.
Legally mediated identity: The National Environmental Policy Act and the bureaucratic construction of interests
Law and Society Review
, vol. 
28
 (pg. 
1149
-
80
)
Espeland, W. 2001. Bureaucrats and Indians in a contemporary colonial encounter. Law and Social Inquiry 26:403-33.
Bureaucrats and Indians in a contemporary colonial encounter
Law and Social Inquiry
, vol. 
26
 (pg. 
403
-
33
)
Foucault, M. 1975. Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. New York: Vintage.
Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison
Foucault, M. 1978. The history of sexuality: An introduction, vol. 1. New York: Vintage.
The history of sexuality: An introduction
, vol. 
1
 
Foucault, M. 1980. Two lectures. In Power/knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings, ed. C. Gordon, 78-108. New York: Pantheon.
Power/knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings
(pg. 
78
-
108
)
Gooding, S. 1994. Place, race, and names: Layered identities in United States v. Oregon, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, plaintiff-intervenor. Law and Society Review 28:1181-230.
Place, race, and names: Layered identities in United States v. Oregon, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, plaintiff-intervenor
Law and Society Review
, vol. 
28
 (pg. 
1181
-
230
)
Gramsci, A. 1971. Prison notebooks. New York: International Publishers.
Prison notebooks
Halfon, S. 1998. Collecting, testing, and convincing: Forensic DNA experts in the courts. Social Studies of Science 28:801-28.
Collecting, testing, and convincing: Forensic DNA experts in the courts
Social Studies of Science
, vol. 
28
 (pg. 
801
-
28
)
Hall, S. 1996. The problem of ideology: Marxism without guarantees. In Stuart Hall: Critical dialogue in cultural studies, ed. D. Morley and K. Chen, 25-46. London: Routledge.
Stuart Hall: Critical dialogue in cultural studies
(pg. 
25
-
46
)
Harris, L. 2002. Water and conflict geographies of the southeastern Anatolia project. Society and Natural Resources 15:743-59.
Water and conflict geographies of the southeastern Anatolia project
Society and Natural Resources
, vol. 
15
 (pg. 
743
-
59
)
Hirsch, A. 1959. Water legislation in the Middle East. The American Journal of Comparative Law 8(2):168-86.
Water legislation in the Middle East
The American Journal of Comparative Law
, vol. 
8
 (pg. 
168
-
86
)
Hourani, A. 1991. A history of the Arab peoples. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
A history of the Arab peoples
Isaaq, J. 1994. A sober approach to the water crisis in the Middle East. Bethlehem: Applied Research Institute—Jerusalem.
A sober approach to the water crisis in the Middle East
Jasanoff, S. 1990. Fifth branch: Science advisors as policymakers. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
Fifth branch: Science advisors as policymakers
Jasanoff, S. 1995. Science at the bar: Law, science, and technology in America. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
Science at the bar: Law, science, and technology in America
Jasanoff, S. 1998. The eye of everyman: Witnessing DNA in the Simpson trial. Social Studies of Science 28:713-40.
The eye of everyman: Witnessing DNA in the Simpson trial
Social Studies of Science
, vol. 
28
 (pg. 
713
-
40
)
Kahan, D. 1987. Agriculture and Water Resources in the West Bank and Gaza (1967-1987). Jerusalem: Jerusalem Post Publishing.
Agriculture and Water Resources in the West Bank and Gaza (1967-1987)
Kally, E. 1997. Interview with author. Tel Aviv, 11 September.
Kartin, A. 2002. Water scarcity problems in Israel. Geojournal 53:273-82.
Water scarcity problems in Israel
Geojournal
, vol. 
53
 (pg. 
273
-
82
)
Kemp, A., Newman, D., Ram, U. and Yiftachel, O. Israelis in Conflict Hegemonies, Identities and Challenges. Sussex, UK: Sussex University Press.
Kimmerling, B. 1983. Zionism and territory: The socio-territorial dimensions of Zionist politics. Berkeley: Institute of International Studies, University of California.
Zionism and territory: The socio-territorial dimensions of Zionist politics
Laclau, E., and Mouffe, C. 1985. Hegemony and socialist strategy: Towards a radical democratic politics. New York: Verso.
Hegemony and socialist strategy: Towards a radical democratic politics
Laqueur, W. 1976. A history of Zionism. New York: Schocken.
A history of Zionism
Laster, R. 1976. The legal framework for the prevention and control of water pollution in Israel. Jerusalem: Ministry of the Interior.
The legal framework for the prevention and control of water pollution in Israel
Laster, R. 1980. Legal aspects of water quality management in Israel. In Water quality management under conditions of scarcity: Israel as a case study, ed. H. Shuval, 263-86. New York: Academic Press.
Water quality management under conditions of scarcity: Israel as a case study
(pg. 
263
-
86
)
Laster, R. 1993. Israel. In International encyclopedia of laws, environmental law supplement, 5. Boston: Kluwer Law and Taxation.
International encyclopedia of laws, environmental law supplement
, vol. 
5
 
Laster, R. 1997. Interview with author. Jerusalem, 12 August.
Law, J., and Hassard, J. 1999. Actor network theory and after. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
Actor network theory and after
Levine, N. 1994. Between choice and sacrifice: Constructions of community consent in reactive air pollution regulation. Law and Society Review 28:1035-78.
Between choice and sacrifice: Constructions of community consent in reactive air pollution regulation
Law and Society Review
, vol. 
28
 (pg. 
1035
-
78
)
Lowdermilk, W. 1944. Palestine: Land of promise. New York: Harper & Brothers.
Palestine: Land of promise
Lucas, N. 1975. The modern history of Israel. New York: Praeger.
The modern history of Israel
Lynch, M. 1998. The discursive construction of uncertainty: The O.J. Simpson “dream team” and the sociology of knowledge machine. Social Studies of Science 28:829-68.
The discursive construction of uncertainty: The O.J. Simpson “dream team” and the sociology of knowledge machine
Social Studies of Science
, vol. 
28
 (pg. 
829
-
68
)
Marston, S. 2000. The social construction of scale. Progress in Human Geography 24:219-242.
The social construction of scale
Progress in Human Geography
, vol. 
24
 (pg. 
219
-
242
)
Marston, S., and Smith, N. 2001. States, scales, and households: limits to scale thinking? A response to Brenner. Progress in Human Geography 25:615-619.
States, scales, and households: limits to scale thinking? A response to Brenner
Progress in Human Geography
, vol. 
25
 (pg. 
615
-
619
)
Mertz, E. 1994. Conclusion: A new social constructionism for sociological studies. Law and Society Review 28:1243-66.
Conclusion: A new social constructionism for sociological studies
Law and Society Review
, vol. 
28
 (pg. 
1243
-
66
)
Mouffe, C. 1979. Gramsci and Marxist theory. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Gramsci and Marxist theory
Pearlman, M. 1965. Ben-Gurion looks back: In talks with Moshe Pearlman. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
Ben-Gurion looks back: In talks with Moshe Pearlman
Penslar, D. 1991. Zionism and technocracy: The engineering of Jewish settlement in Palestine, 1870-1918. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Zionism and technocracy: The engineering of Jewish settlement in Palestine, 1870-1918
Purcell, M. 2003. Islands of practice and the Marston/Brenner debate: toward a more synthetic critical human geography. Progress in Human Geography 27:317-332.
Islands of practice and the Marston/Brenner debate: toward a more synthetic critical human geography
Progress in Human Geography
, vol. 
27
 (pg. 
317
-
332
)
Raphaeli, N. 1965. Israel's water economy. Lad Economics 41:361-4.
Israel's water economy
Lad Economics
, vol. 
41
 (pg. 
361
-
4
)
Schiff, Z. 1993. Peace with security: Israel's minimal security requirements in negotiations with Syria. Washington, D.C.: Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Peace with security: Israel's minimal security requirements in negotiations with Syria
Schwartz, J. 1992. Management of Israel's water resources. In Water and peace in the Middle East: Proceedings of the First Israeli-Palestinian International Academic Conference on Water, ed. J. Isaaq and H. Shuval, 69-82. Zurich: Elsevier.
Management of Israel's water resources
(pg. 
69
-
82
)
Shuval, H., ed. 1980. Water quality management under conditions of scarcity: Israel as a case study. New York: Academic Press.
Water quality management under conditions of scarcity: Israel as a case study
Shuval, H. 1992. Approaches to resolving the water conflicts between Israel and her neighbours: A regional water for peace plan. Water International 17:133-43.
Approaches to resolving the water conflicts between Israel and her neighbours: A regional water for peace plan
Water International
, vol. 
17
 (pg. 
133
-
43
)
Smith, A. 1994. New right discourse on race and sexuality: Britain 1968-1990. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
New right discourse on race and sexuality: Britain 1968-1990
Sneddon, C. 2002. Water conflicts in river basins: the contradictions of comanagement and scale in northeast Thailand. Society and Natural Resources 15: 725-41.
Water conflicts in river basins: the contradictions of comanagement and scale in northeast Thailand
Society and Natural Resources
, vol. 
15
 (pg. 
725
-
41
)
Sneddon, C., Harris, L., Dimitrov, R., and Ozesmi, U. 2002. Contested waters: Conflict, scale, and sustainability in aquatic socioecological systems. Society and Natural Resources 15:663-75.
Contested waters: Conflict, scale, and sustainability in aquatic socioecological systems
Society and Natural Resources
, vol. 
15
 (pg. 
663
-
75
)
TAHAL, Water Planning of Israel. 1957. The Master Plan for the Utilization of Water Resources in Israel. Jerusalem: Israel Government Printer.
Tal, A. 1997. Interview with author. Tel Aviv, 12 August.
Tessler, M. 1994. A history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
A history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Troen, S., and Lucas, N., eds. 1995. Israel: The first decade of independence. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Israel: The first decade of independence
Virschubski, M. 1997. Interview with author. Tel Aviv, 11 September.
Wiener, A. 1997. Interview with author. Tel Aviv, 25 August.
Wiener, A. 1998. Interview with author. Tel Aviv, 6 September.
Wiener, A., and Wolman, A. 1962. Formulation of national water resources policy in Israel. American Water Works Association 273(3):257-63.
Formulation of national water resources policy in Israel
American Water Works Association
, vol. 
273
 (pg. 
257
-
63
)
Wolf, A. 1992. The impact of scarce water resources on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Natural Resources Journal 32:919-58.
The impact of scarce water resources on the Arab-Israeli conflict
Natural Resources Journal
, vol. 
32
 (pg. 
919
-
58
)
Zureik, E. 1978. The Palestinians in Israel: A study in internal colonialism. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
The Palestinians in Israel: A study in internal colonialism
This content is only available as a PDF.