Israel’s ‘Water-Apartheid’ in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank (McCauley)

Lauren McCauley writes at Common Dreams

A new report on Israel’s water grab in the occupied West Bank links the widespread deprivation of Palestinian water rights to Israel’s settlement expansion strategy, saying both demonstrate “a clear testament to its colonial and apartheid motives.”

Published Monday by the Ramallah-based human rights organization Al-Haq, “Water for One People Only: Discriminatory Access and ‘Water-Apartheid’ in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” (pdf) reports that Israel has claimed up to 89% of an underground aquifer that is largely located in the West Bank, giving Palestinians only access to the remaining 11%.

The water grab has fueled increased discrepancy in water usage in the region with the 500,000 Jewish settlers consuming approximately six times the amount of water used by the 2.6 million Palestinians living in the West Bank—with the discrepancy growing even greater when agricultural water use is accounted for. 

“There is a grave injustice in the division of water, and the results have been catastrophic,” Tawfiq Salah, mayor of West Bank village al-Khader, told Al-Monitor.

The report cites a number of efforts—including the continued establishment of Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory, the transfer of control of Palestinian water infrastructure to Israel’s national water company, ‘Mekorot,’ and finally the Oslo Accords—all which have effectively diminished Palestinian water rights and granted Israel sweeping authority over the vital resource.

Writing about the report, Al-Monitor’s Jihan Abdalla quotes Musa, a Palestinian father of six, who had attempted to build a rainwater cistern in his field before the Israeli authorities quickly issued it with a demolition order. Abdalla continues:

Musa says if they had access to sufficient, affordable water, his family would be able to live off their ancestral field, selling their grapes, olives and fruit in nearby markets.

That, he says, is the reason why Israeli authorities prevent them from building a cistern, and why they do not have any running water.

“They don’t want us to plant or grow anything, they just want us to have barely enough water for drinking and that’s it,” Musa says looking at the unfinished, empty hole in the ground.
Roughly 313,000 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are not connected to a water network, according to Al-Haq, and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that between 2009 and 2011 over 200 Palestinian wells and water reserves in the West Bank were demolished by Israeli officials.

Al-Haq writes that that Israel’s discriminatory water policy in the West Bank is “intrinsically linked to its settlement expansion strategy.”

The report continues:

Israel’s water policies represent only one element of an irreversible structural process that can only be described as colonial. Israel’s intention to permanently change the status of the occupied territory, de facto exercising sovereignty, reveals itself through the establishment and expansion of settlements in the West Bank (currently over 200) and by the creation of a network of roads and flourishing agricultural enterprises for their benefit. The presence of settlements aims to permanently deny the Palestinian population the exercise of their right to self-determination by fragmenting the OPT and preventing the Palestinian people from exercising sovereignty over natural resources, in particular land and water.

“Existing extractions, utilization, and estimated potential” according to the terms of Oslo II, Schedule 10, for the Western and North Eastern Aquifer Basin (mcm/yr)

– Lauren McCauley

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Mirrored from Common Dreams

7 Responses

  1. Absloute power corrupts absolutely.

    There are no checks and balances to be enforced against the occupying power – Israel. So the Palestinians in the West Bank live under military rule by the Civil Administration. Israel, via its military, pretty much does what it wants.

    It has been this way since 1967.

  2. If only articles like this appeared in the mainstream media!
    Those of us who get our news from other sources know all this about Palestine only too well, but I fear we are a small minority.

  3. “The Politicization of the Oslo Water Agreement,” written by Lauro Burkart, a Swiss graduate of the Institute of International and Development studies in Geneva

    Burkart writes: “It is not the Israeli occupation policy but the Palestinian political resistance against joint management and cooperation that is responsible for the relatively slow development of the Palestinian water sector and the deteriorating human rights situation in the Palestinian Territories” and “There is convincing evidence of mismanagement within the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA).”

    link to

    • “The last chapter will outline an analysis based on facts, which shows that the Palestinian narrative is wrong”, writes Lauro Burkart. Ah, those pesky Palestinians and their wrong narratives. And their foreign friends with their non-fact-based analyses.

      Unlike the Israeli water negotiator, Avraham Katz-Oz, whose statement there is no reason for Palestinians to claim that just because they sit on lands, they have the rights to that water is completely fact-based.

      Oh wait…

      Well, I hope we can at least agree that the Israel Meteorological Service is an impartial organization. They may get the weather wrong sometimes, but mostly they are pretty good at what they do. Now let’s look at their map of Israel. Pretty clear, isn’t it? Israel is one state. I hope we can also agree about the population within the area shown on the map of Israel: some eight million Israeli citizens and some five million other people. About five million people, who were born there and have always lived there, are not citizens.

      People who were born there and have always lived there, but are not citizens. What do you call that? Ah yes, good neighborliness.

  4. I can’t wait to hear Professor Cole’s reply about Burkart’s Israeli-weighted study and to David’s one-sided interpretation of it. My take is that because the occupied population hasn’t been thrilled with its straitjacket and its resources confiscated on whatever awful insulting terms being dictated at the point of a gun, then blame the victim, which is a complicit coward’s writing of history. One day the history will not be written by Israelis and their compromised enablers, and I am looking forward, the sooner the better, to reading this “more accurate and impartial picture” of what has transpired the last 70 or so years.

    • “One day the history will not be written by Israelis and their compromised enablers.”
      I wouldn´t bet on that. The chilling thing about history is, we have to believe in documents because the people who were there when “it” happened are dead. The fight for truth can be lost for the moment being and still be won later, sure – but it can also be ultimately lost when the winner´s voice makes its way into the history books and successes in eliminating all credible other sources. Can any historian still claim to be innocently unaware of this in the 21st century?

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