.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Gazan union prefers unsafe water to Israeli desalination

Ma'an reports, poorly:
The union of Palestinian contractors on Monday announced a boycott a UN agency that allows Israeli firms to bid for construction work in the Gaza Strip.

The union said contractors would boycott all work for UNICEF "until they backtrack from their decision to take offers from Israeli companies and equate them with Palestinian companies."

Urging all local and official organizations to follow suit, the union said in a statement that hiring Israeli firms for projects in Gaza would reward Israel's siege of the enclave and destroy the Palestinian economy.

The decision to boycott followed a meeting between union leaders and UNICEF special representative Jean Gough.
Really? Israeli firms are bidding to do construction work in Gaza, where their workers would be in grave danger?

You have to read further to see what is really going on:
In a statement, Gough said UNICEF purchased goods and services through a competitive bid process "from qualified Palestinian manufacturers, authorized dealers and companies.

"We only buy from other providers when goods are not available."
That changes things a little. And what might these goods be?
UNICEF is building a desalination unit in the Gaza Strip. The UN has estimated that almost 95 percent of water pumped in Gaza is unfit for drinking.

"We are committed to work with our Palestinian partners to ensure that this unit can be built without delay and with the best quality materials available, so that it can benefit Palestinian children as soon as possible," Gough said.

"The final decision on the continuation of this project is in the hands of our Palestinian counterparts and stakeholder."

UNICEF spokeswoman Catherine Weibel told Ma'an that the agency had invited bids from authorized dealers and manufacturers for the project but no company had yet been hired.
Ah, so it is specialized desalination equipment that is up for bid, not "construction work." And Israel is a leader in that field.

So Palestinian Arab contractors, who don't care in the least if UNICEF pays double for non-Israeli products, are prepared to force UNICEF to bar products from Israel in their normal competitive bid process.

The Ma'an story doesn't quite capture the cynicism that is being shown here, where the health of Gazans is being politicized in order to make a ridiculous point - ridiculous because Gazans prefer to buy Israeli goods for their own families when given a choice.