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In order to grasp the complexity of the conflict, I think it's appropriate to also look at issues that somehow lie behind 'raw politics', such as religious issues (see Melissa's recent discussion) and economic ones.

The availability and distribution of water in dry Israel-Palestine is one such issue. It's hard to achieve peace when large-scale economic injustices prevail. The World Bank says that Israel gets four times more water than Palestinians, "although both share the mountain aquifer that runs the length of the occupied West Bank" (Guardian article, 27 May 2009).

The article and the WB report are here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/may/27/israel-palestinian-wate...

http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTWESTBANKGAZA/Resources/WaterR...

Overall, of course, water is a scarce resource for both Israelis and Palestinians, although it's apparently scarcer for the latter. Solutions need to be found to ensure sustainable water availability in the Middle East, but such possible solutions must not work for one side's gain alone.

Desalination of Mediterranean water seems to be a highly efficient option, but large-scale Israeli desalination projects again throw up the question of redressing injustices as the water to be desalinated "in fact partially belongs to the Palestinians but is inaccessible for them" (irc.nl article, 17 March 2009 -- http://www.irc.nl/page/47170).

Water is both an obstacle to peace (in case it's unfairly distributed) and a trigger for peace (economic development through a fair water share in the Palestinian territories could potentially improve security aspects). Read also this:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/oct/12/middleeast-isra...

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To bring the arguments and evidence above to a more 'micro'-level, I'd like to ask those among us who live in the West Bank or in the Gaza Strip:

How do you assess the water situation at the moment?
Do you feel unfairly treated? If you live near settlements, do you have evidence of a better water provision in the settlements?
What could be done/is done on the Palestinian side to improve water quality/provision?

AlJazeera English August 21, 2008

The Middle East is in the grip of a drought. In Israel, it's just beginning to have an impact, but just a few miles away in the occupied West Bank, the crisis is much more acute. Nour Odeh examin...
The Middle East is in the grip of a drought.

In Israel, it's just beginning to have an impact, but just a few miles away in the occupied West Bank, the crisis is much more acute.

Nour Odeh examines the situation in the village of Saffarin, near Tulkarem.



For more information: http://www.btselem.org/
http://ecojustice.net/2004-Envre120/Student.../Sarit-Shalhevet_wate...

Trans-boundary Water Management:
The Israeli-Palestinian Case
http://www.teva.org.il/_Uploads/dbsAttachedFiles/Fuad.ppt
I would just like to remind all of you of this topic/discussion.

What are your views on the water issue?

It would be nice to gather some input on this important topic.
Oliver,

this issue can be discussed from many perspectives, I think this is why it is so hard to people to engage in that.

1) perspective of care
As humans we know how important water to our life, we see access of water as Human right that justified by our needs. The water need to be accessible, cheep, clean and we expect the governments to organize the economic of production around it to secure it to all. The question is

2) perspective of equality
There is differences between Israeli and Palestinian access of water, as there are differences between Syrian, Somalian, Israelis access, some take this to part of the Israeli abuse of the situations, others to the lack of Palestinian infrastructure to provide the water

3) perspective of legality
Who owns the water? who as right to pump water and create new pump points? In israel there is one leagal athurity in Palestine there is no entity with legal acceptance.

4) perspective of environment
The dead sea is drying due pumping of all available sources for the sea. the area of Palestine and Israel have some boundary level of rain resources.

5) perspective of economic
Water as a resource is used in industry and agriculture there is a level of subsidize of water that is given by Israeli government

5) perspective of peace
we are one human tissue, we share the resources and the use of the water we need it for our livelihood and all included.
Thanks, Neri, for pointing that out.

Water is indeed a multi-faceted issue, and, most importantly, it's something we all need, rich and poor, young and old,...

Water becomes a scarce resource all over the world, and while some conflicts (e.g. Darfur) have been sparked by water disputes, it has become an important issue in the Middle East conflict.
Here is some current coverage on the topic - in the form of a BBC article on the occasion of a recent Amnesty International report on apparent water provision injustices in the Pal. territories.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8327188.stm


Israel 'cuts Palestinian water'

Some Palestinians only get 20 litres of water a day, Amnesty says
Israel is denying Palestinians access to even the basic minimum of clean, safe water, Amnesty International says.

In a report, the human rights group says Israeli water restrictions discriminate against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

It says that in Gaza, Israel's blockade has brought the water and sewage system to "crisis point".

Israel says the report is flawed and the Palestinians get more water than was agreed under the 1990s peace deal.

'Basic need'

In the 112-page report, Amnesty says that on average Palestinian daily water consumption reaches 70 litres a day, compared with 300 litres for the Israelis.


Israel must end its discriminatory policies, immediately lift all the restrictions it imposes on Palestinians' access to water

Donatella Rovera
Amnesty International
It says that some Palestinians barely get 20 litres a day - the minimum recommended even in humanitarian emergencies.

Amnesty says that Israel denies West Bank Palestinians to dig wells, and has even destroyed cisterns and impounded water tankers.

At the same time, the report claims, Israeli settlers are enjoying swimming pools and green gardens.

In Gaza, Israel refuses access to many of the building materials needed to renovate the ailing water system, the document says.

It adds that Israel uses more than 80% of the water from the Mountain Aquifer - the main source of underground water in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

"Water is a basic need and a right, but for many Palestinians obtaining even poor-quality, subsistence-level quantities of water has become a luxury that they can barely afford," Amnesty's Donatella Rovera said.

"Israel must end its discriminatory policies, immediately lift all the restrictions it imposes on Palestinians' access to water."

Ms Rovera also urged Israel to "take responsibility for addressing the problems it created by allowing Palestinians a fair share of the shared water resources".

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the report was factually inaccurate, accusing the Palestinians of mismanaging water resources.

He also rejected the claim that Israel was preventing Palestinians from drilling for water.

The spokesman said Israel had approved 82 such projects but the Palestinians had only implemented 26 of them.
The story of (No) water has been picked up by the AP, the major and minor news networks here in the USA....
maybe if we share this story with ALL friends of peace and justice; then there can be a fair distribution of water...
and with water, life is nurtured.

Pass this story on to any and everyone who loves life, loves justice, lives in hope.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=8923555
Thanks for sharing, Ron..

Fairness is an indispensable requirement for peace and existing injustices in water distribution clearly need to be addressed in peace talks.

I'd like to ask the Palestinian mepeace members: How do you perceive this problem? Would you agree with the arguments of Amnesty International? Are there differences within Palestinian society, or within Palestinian towns/villages?
In todays Haaretz there is coverage about the Amnesty International report with the following israei reaction:

Israel's water authority said those numbers were misleading because they took into account internal distribution and did not compare total water consumption. It said the total figures were 408 liters per day for Israelis and 287 liters for Palestinians.


The ratio is still very high but these figures are not the real issue.
Israel as an occupier does not need to bring equality between the Territories and Israel..but does that absolve it of its responsibility.

Israel retorts that it has given more water than agreed upon at Oslo sounds nice, but is also does not address the real issue.

I would think that Developing Infrastructure (water and sewage) to allow for creation of new sources of water is key.

The figures are fine for creating awareness, but i think they steer the discussion to debate about the accuracy rather than on the plight today and the lack of hope for the future without some real internationally backed scheme of development.
"Israel as an occupier does not need to bring equality between the Territories and Israel..but does that absolve it of its responsibility."

I guess, Myron, you forgot the question mark behind 'responsibility'. Put clearly as a question, this quotation is very interesting. What are the responsibilities of an occupier? Who defines any responsibilities? International pressure, or 'common humanity', or...?

Issues like water distribution wouldn't be brought up regularly by global media if Israel was not Israel but, say, Myanmar or Sudan. The point is that Israel - indeed as an "occupier" - is seen in a different light than the countries just referred to. Israel is a democracy, with governance based on rule of law. Everything that doesn't come close to "equality" in water distribution and other issues, will be - rightfully - addressed by both leading NGOs and Western governments.
Legal responsibilities of an occupier are pretty clear on this. An occupier is not allowed to interfere in any way with travel, trade or use of resources in occupied land.

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