Wednesday, February 12, 2014

  • Wednesday, February 12, 2014
  • Elder of Ziyon
Deutche Welle reports:

European Parliament President Martin Schulz came under fire Wednesday after making remarks in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, about the water usage of Palestinians and Israelis in the occupied West Bank.

In his speech, Schulz said that when he was in Ramallah earlier in the week, a young Palestinian had asked him "why an Israeli can use 70 cubic liters of water daily and a Palestinian only 17?" He then added, "I haven't checked the data. I'm asking you if this is correct."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his own address to the Knesset, accused Schulz of repeating claims without fact-checking. "Check first," he said.
Israeli media quoted Israel's national water authority as saying the figures quoted by Schulz were inaccurate with West Bank settlers consuming 1.7 times more water per person, instead of 4.2 times more.

This reminded me of an incident from 2011.

Ma'an reported at the time:
The head of the Palestinian Water Authority has condemned Israel’s destruction of three water wells near Nablus, calling on the international community to intervene.

Shaddad Attili said the Beit Hassan wells were used to irrigate 2,000 dunums of land on which several families relied. "It is the ability of these families to stay on their land that Israel is targeting,” Attili said.

He added: "My immediate concern is for the welfare of those Palestinian families and communities affected by the destruction of these wells. Getting water to them is my first priority."
Israel destroying wells! What more do you need to know?

Here's a 2012 letter from the head of infrastructure for COGAT at the time, explaining the truth. Of course, it didn't get the same coverage as the initial accusations:
A few days ago Dr Attili sent out a letter denouncing the Israeli destruction of a number of illegal wells located in Beit Hassan, using this as an explanation for his choice to withdraw from the desalination training program.

It is unfortunate that Dr Attili has chosen to take such action, not least as above all, as it is the Palestinian people alone who will suffer as a result of his decision.

In response to his accusation, I think it is essential to inform you of a number of crucial points that Dr. Attili has omitted, which highlight not only the difficulties that we face with regards to cooperation in the water sector, but also expose the customary tiresome Palestinian public relations tactics, which we are forced to deal with on a regular basis.

The decision to shut down the 3 illegal wells in Beit Hassan was agreed upon by both sides, Israeli and Palestinian, at the Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee (JWC) meeting held on 2.12.2007, (see attached signed MoM, paragraph 3).

Several reminders of this decision were sent to the Palestinian Water Authority who reiterated their intention to execute the above-mentioned JWC decision and also promised to submit a report on its implementation (see attached signed JWC MoM from 7.7.09, paragraph 28).

On several occasions the Palestinian side emphasized its commitment to combat the phenomenon of illegal drillings, stating that it is in the best interest for both sides (see attached special decision of the JWC from 13.11.07)

In March 2011, four years after the original joint decision to close down the wells, we requested once more that the JWC decision be implemented (see attached letter). We received a most perplexing response to this in April, stating that "...any decision to demolish a well is unacceptable to the PWA...". On July 5th 2011 we reiterated the urgent need for the JWC decision to be implemented, in order to protect our joint asset.

The decision to shut down the wells in Beit Hassan, which was approved by the JWC in 2007, is not a matter of politics - it is a matter of survival - as it works towards protecting our largest and most important collective vital natural resource. A troubling reminder of the risks attached to unmonitored drillings is the destruction of the Gaza Aquifer, which came about as a result of the large amount of unauthorized drillings.

This cannot and this must not be repeated with the joint Mountain Aquifer, and it is a mystery to us why the Palestinian side does not value its own survival.

It is also important to emphasize that unauthorized drillings are in contradiction with article 40 of Annex III of the Interim Agreement, which Israel fully implements, even surpassing its obligations under the agreement, for instance by supplying the Palestinians with quantities of water far beyond its obligation. The steps taken by Israel in this matter were, as l am sure you would agree, the only remaining option after many efforts to find a solution to this issue through dialogue and negotiation - a solution that had already been devised and acknowledged by both sides - but which for some reason the Palestinians turned back upon. It would have been far preferable for the PWA to resolve this issue itself, as originally agreed.

We usually strive to resolve our disagreements within the JWC, as instructed by the Interim Agreement, rather than by dragging in third parties. While we would not normally respond to such public relations tactics, we feel that it is important that the facts be made clear to all, in order to avoid any potential misinterpretation. Israel gladly meets and will continue to meet with the Palestinian side in the framework of the JWC to discuss common issues, as set by article 40 of Annex Ill of the Interim Agreement as it has done before, for the benefit of both sides.

We hope that in time, the Palestinians will join us in thinking about, and acting upon, our collective vital interests rather than compromising them in the hope of raising public support.

Lt.Col Grisha Yakubovich
Head of Infrastructure Branch COGAT,
Ministry of Defense

A dissertation by Lauro Burkart contains this and many other memos that show how much effort Israel put into helping Palestinian Arabs obtain water. Many permits for wells were ignored by the Palestinian Water Authority, for example.

Burkart proves convincingly that the Palestinian side would consistently use the water issue to obtain political advantage at the expense of its people.

Assuming that water negotiations can be de-politicized, cooperation could improve the situation on the ground. A first area for cooperation is the treatment and reuse of wastewater. Out of the 52 mcm/y of wastewater generated by the Palestinian population, 17 mcm/y is flowing untreated into Israel and 33 mcm/y remains in the West Bank where it contaminates the shared groundwater resources. Hence, Israel has an environmental incentive to support and foster the Palestinian wastewater infrastructure. Nevertheless, the Palestinians claim that Israel is blocking their wastewater infrastructure. These claims are invalidated by two memoranda of understanding that were drafted in the framework of the JWC. They were pushed by Israel after the Intifada broke down the cooperation in the field of wastewater.407

The first claim is that Israel is demanding an unreasonable high level of treatment, BOD 10/10.408 The JWC memorandum of understanding from 2003, which was signed by both
parties, agreed on a gradual process to achieve this standard, but starting with the much lower level of BOD 20/30.409 This mutual understanding is reiterated in a second MOU, which has not been signed yet by the Palestinian side.410 Hence, the claim that Israel demands a level of treatment that is unattainable by Palestinian economic standards is false.

The second accusation is that Israel is not allowing the Palestinians to build treatment plants in area C. If the Palestinians want to drill a well in area C, they must obtain a permit of the C.A. in addition to the JWC approval. In the unsigned MOU it is stated that WWTPs will also be built in area C.411 The Palestinians submitted a list of 35 Palestinian wastewater projects. Seven of these projects for the area C are in the approval process. Four of them have an approval of the Sewage JTC,412 two were principally approved by the JWC,413 and one was approved by the ,CA.414 Furthermore, one is already in the process of construction.415 The will to support waste water projects in area C is emphasized also by the Civil Administration.416

Thirdly, it is claimed that Israel demands the wastewater plants to be treating water from the Jewish communities. As the unsigned MOU as well as the aforementioned list demonstrate, no such demands are made by Israel.417 After the Palestinians refused to build joint treatment plants for Jewish communities and nearby Palestinian villages, Israel started to build a network of small collection systems serving only Jewish communities in the West Bank.418 The Palestinian political leadership limited the cooperation in the field of wastewater, although this technology was desired by local municipalities.419 The cooperation clearly stopped with the advent of the second Intifada when the JWC became more politicized. While Israel conditioned other projects on the Palestinian progress in the wastewater sector, the Palestinians presented sovereignty-based objections against the wastewater technology.420
The story of Palestinian swimming pools is here
All the documents mentioned here are reproduced in the paper.

It is clear that the Palestinian Authority decided long ago to stop cooperating with Israel on water issues and instead politicize it at the expense of its people (and the entire region, by overdrilling and refusing to treat wastewater for crops and giving them scarce fresh water instead.)

This politicization is what drives bogus statistics about water, statistics that take a lot of effort to debunk.

But nearly every one has been shown to be a lie.

(h/t Josh K)


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