Because of geography and hydrology, the Palestinians’ water future is closely tied to Israel’s. In just the few years of Hamas control of Gaza, the water supply there has been polluted, and though no solution to its coming water crisis is likely without an Israeli role, Hamas has refused to cooperate with Israel.
The Palestinians in the West Bank already receive much of their water from Israel’s national water utility and, sovereignty and symbolism aside, neither a two-state solution nor a continuation of the status quo will change that. Given their proximity to Israel, the Palestinians are likely to be among the few Arab winners in the water race.
The other piece was far more critical of Israel and accurately described the way in which Israel exploits Palestinian water resources properly contextualizing the situation in Occupation. The author writes:
So here are the facts:
* Israel doesn’t give water to the Palestinians. Rather, it sells it to them at full price.
* The Palestinians would not have been forced to buy water from Israel if it were not an occupying power which controls their natural resource, and if it were not for the Oslo II Accords, which limit the volume of water they can produce, as well as the development and maintenance of their water infrastructure.
* This 1995 interim agreement was supposed to lead to a permanent arrangement after five years. The Palestinian negotiators deluded themselves that they would gain sovereignty and thus control over their water resources. The Palestinians were the weak, desperate, easily tempted side and sloppy when it came to details. Therefore, in that agreement Israel imposed a scandalously uneven, humiliating and infuriating division of the water resources of the West Bank.
* The division is based on the volume of water Palestinians produced and consumed on the eve of the deal. The Palestinians were allotted 118 million cubic meters (mcm) per year from three aquifers via drilling, agricultural wells, springs and precipitation. Pay attention, Rino Tzror: the same deal allotted Israel 483 mcm annually from the same resources (and it has also exceeded this limit in some years). In other words, some 20 percent goes to the Palestinians living in the West Bank, and about 80 percent goes to Israelis – on both sides of the Green Line – who also enjoy resources from the rest of the country.
Why should Palestinians agree to pay for desalinated water from Israel, which constantly robs them of the water flowing under their feet?
UPDATE*: It seems Seth Siegel, the author of the NY Times puff piece on Israel and water scarcity who was identified in the article as “a founder of Beanstalk, a brand-licensing agency, and of Sixpoint Partners, an investment bank” is also….drum-roll…..an AIPAC board member. Why did the NYT omit this very relevant part of his bio in the author description?
Yousef Munayyer is Executive Director of The Jerusalem Fund and Palestine Center.
The views in this brief do not necessarily reflect those of The Jerusalem Fund.