Water technology: Israeli and Palestinian experiences

Israel can be proud of her contributions to modern water technology.

The WATEC 09 exhibition, which takes place in 2 weeks time in tel Aviv, is one of the most important show-events on the global circuit. Local companies like IDE lead in desalinisation tech. I am working with company that extracts commercial quantities of water from the atmosphere.

And the flattering list of accolades is not something that emerged overnight. Israel was a pioneer of drip irrigation through Netafim and others.

The results for the local economy have been enormous. Israel’s Water Commission released a 37 page pdf report in April 2009.  Per capite cubic meter consumption has continued to drop this decade – approx 150 for 2008. 40 years ago, the figure was over 500.

And despite 5 years of constant below-average rainfalls, the country has been able to honour its agreements with its neighbours. Jordan still receives water under the peace treaty. The Palestinians, who negotiated their needs via Article 40 of Annex III to the Oslo Accords, are now receiving far beyond what was agreed 15 years ago.

To give a specific example, the Water Commission noted that “it was agreed to transfer to the Gaza Strip an additional 5 MCM/yr from Israel’s national system (at a price equal to the cost of desalinated water plus transport). The supply pipeline for this purpose was laid by Israel up to the border with the Gaza Strip.”

In fact, the Palestinian attitude towards increasing poor water resources in the region can be described as disappointing.

Yes, the Palestinian economy weaknesses do not allow the government to invest in infrastructure as it would wish. There again, there does not allow it to relinquish its responsibilities. As anecdotal evidence, I live near southern Ramallah. And last summer, the region suffered unduly from mosquitos due to untreated sewage and wasted water.

Given this background, a recent report by Amnesty International (AI) is not just disappointing. AI has declared that Israel is deliberately misusing water resources to the extent that the Palestinians are left with minimal reserves. Yet for many, this is a misleading accusation, pouring oil on a region already burning with violent distrust. 

It is not clear why an organisation, gleaming with its success in supporting the rights of political prisoners, has entered into the arena of ecology. Nor is it obvious how AI can substantiate its claims, when it deliberately did not ask the Israelis authorities for supporting documentation.

From Israel’s point of view, the Palestinians have violated their commitments under the water agreement from Oslo:  Eg over 250 wells drilled without the authorization of the Joint Water Commission (JWC). Further, despite their obligations to establish sewage plants and having obtained foreign funding for the purpose, only one plant (El Bireh) has been built in 15 years.

The JWC has approved 82 new wells. Lt.-Col. Amnon Cohen, head of Israel’s civil administration’s infrastructures department, observed that: –

43 are in Areas A and B, which are under PA control and they do not need us involved. Out of the remaining 39, in Area C and under Israeli security control, 21 have been approved and 11 have not even been submitted for approval.” (In addition, over 55 other wells have been approved for upgrading).

The Oslo Accords clearly state that Israel has an obligation to bring water up to the entrance to the main cities and surrounding areas. The amounts have been increased over the years.  The Accords also ensure that responsibility for final distribution is in the hands of the local Palestinian authorities.

So, if the average citizen does not receive the water, than why is Amnesty blaming Israel and its technology? The accusation is similar to the financial aid that Palestinian people are supposed to receive but can never be traced. Everything has disappeared down the same dark, dark plug hole.

Find the hole and those guarding it, and you will start to understand who is perverting the casue of peace in the Middle East. Now there’s a project for Amnesty International.

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One Comment on “Water technology: Israeli and Palestinian experiences”

  1. Michael Horesh Says:

    For firther inacurracie sof the AI report, see http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1124454.html


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