International Relations Role-Play:

Water on the West Bank

Susan Podziba and Lawrence Susskind

Seven-person, four-issue mediation among three Israeli water authority and regional representatives and three Palestinian water authority and political representatives over plans to drill a new well on the West Bank

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An Israeli water company has announced plans to drill new well on the West Bank which would pump 18 million cubic meters of water each year. According to plans, about 70% of the water would be consumed by residents of Jerusalem and Jewish settlements, whilst only about 30% would be allocated to Palestinian communities. The project is controversial because it threatens to deplete an existing well used by Arab communities in the area. The simulation is loosely based on an actual proposal to drill a deep water well near Bethlehem.



  • This case illustrates the importance of knowing your aspirations and BATNA in a negotiation.
  • Focus on interests; not positions.
  • Separate people from the problem and avoid escalation traps.
  • Because this is a multi-party, multi-issue simulation, coalitions may form. Negotiation strategies based on coalitions can be explored.
  • This exercise illustrates ways to balance multiple sources of power.



For information on the use of this simulation with Israeli and Palestinian students, see Program on Negotiation Working Paper 88-3, also available through the Clearinghouse.



Time Requirements:

Reading and preparation – 30 mins

Negotiation – 120 mins

Debrief – 45 mins

Total 205 mins


Facility needs:

Room with seating for 7. Flip chart or white board recommended



For all parties:

  • General Instructions


Role Specific:

  • Confidential Instructions for:
  • The Civil Administration, Coordinator of Activities in the Territories
  • Water Commission, Deputy Commissioner for the Gush Etzion Region
  • Mekorot, Project Manager
  • Mayor of Bethlehem
  • Bethlehem Water Authority, Chairman of the Board of Directors
  • Landowners and Farmers Committee, Representative
  • Mediator


Teacher's Package:

  • All of the above
  • Teaching Note



Aspirations; BATNA; Caucusing; Coalitions; Creativity; Credibility; Cross cultural negotiations; Group process; Integrative bargaining; Interest analysis; Mediation; Middle East negotiations; Multi-party negotiations; Options, generation; Packaging; Power imbalance; Preparation; Relationships; Science-intensive policy disputes; Separating the people from the problem; Water negotiations



Managing the Ground Water beneath the Pablo-Burford Border

Water on the West Bank Attributes

Time required: 2-3 hours
Number of participants: 7
Teams involved: Yes
Agent present: Non-lawer
Neutral third party present: Mediator
Scoreable: No
Teaching notes available: Yes
Non-English version available: German