The Water Libel: Does Israel Deny Palestinians Access to Water?

(HonestReporting) Chaim Lax - Israel's critics claim that Israeli authorities withhold water from local Palestinians, that Israel steals water that rightfully belongs to the Palestinians, and that Israel purposefully pollutes Palestinian water sources. All of these allegations have no basis in fact. Prior to 1967 in the West Bank, some major cities had access to a pipeline system installed by the British Mandate decades earlier, while most of the local Palestinian population relied on ancient aqueducts and wells. Following the Six-Day War, Israel improved the West Bank water system by upgrading and extending pipelines. When the Israeli Civil Administration connected Jewish Israeli communities to Israel's national water carrier, it also connected Palestinian population centers to the same water carrier. As a result, between 1967 and 1995, the Palestinian water supply nearly doubled and per capita Palestinian water usage neared Israeli levels. As part of the 1995 Oslo II interim agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, both signed a detailed Water Agreement. It obligates Israel to supply West Bank Palestinians with 31 million cubic meters of water per year - but Israeli actually provides much more than required. So what accounts for any water shortages that Palestinian communities may experience? The main fault lies with the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA). A number of international observers (including the World Bank) have noted a culture of mismanagement within the PWA. This includes a lack of infrastructure maintenance, which causes a 33% loss of water due to leaks and theft (three times the amount of water that the Israeli water system loses). Moreover, the PA rejected an Israeli proposal to build a desalination plant along the coast for the benefit of Palestinians in the northern West Bank.

2023-04-20 00:00:00

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