Illegal settler gets more than 4 times as much water as Palestinian neighbor — and US signed off

Israel/Palestine
on 22 Comments

Lauren Gelfond Feldinger in Haaretz reports on water distribution in the West Bank and says that the Palestinian Authority has gone along with the apartheid system of inequitable division because of the Oslo Accords.

The figures:

On average, West Bank Palestinians have access to about 70 liters a day per person, although in some areas availability is as low as 15 liters, depending on the season. In contrast, Israeli citizens inside the Green Line or in West Bank communities utilize around 280-300 liters per person a day year-round, according to rights organizations, water NGOs and the Palestinian Water Authority.

Feldinger says that EWASH (a coalition of 28 international NGOs working locally on Palestinian water issues) along with the Middle East Children’s Alliance, started a program to get international volunteers to use only 24 litres of water for one day, so as to dramatize the inequality.

Those who volunteered to limit their water usage ranged from college students to retirees, and included Christian clerics, and Jewish, environmental and social-justice activists, recruited by the participating water organizations, via mailings, word of mouth, and social media. Semi-retired factory worker Jenefer Israel, 52, of California, said 25 liters was the bare minimum she could use, even though she gave up her shower and asked a family member to tend to her animals and vegetable garden. She used 14 liters to flush the toilet twice, nine liters to disinfect her goats’ milking equipment, and two liters for drinking, washing hands, preparing food and brushing her teeth….

Eleanor Roffman, 69, a professor of psychology and counseling at Lesley University in Massachusetts, had to give up her daily shower, laundry and dish-washing she said. Roffman and Israel said it was manageable − but only because it was for one day.

Here are the politics of the matter:

Since 1967, Israel has controlled the major underground West Bank water sources. The 1995 Oslo II agreement allocated specific amounts for West Bank Palestinians, based on estimated annual use and projected future use. International transboundary water consultant David Phillips, who has advised Palestinian negotiators, charges that the Oslo agreement expired in 2000, and was always inequitable.

Phillips wrote in an e-mail to Haaretz from Africa that Palestinians signed the agreement “because of the power asymmetry in the mid-1990s, coupled with the inexperience of the Palestinians in negotiations and the failure of the US ‘facilitator’ to demand a more equitable outcome.” Phillips urges Israel to “negotiate in good faith with Palestine to attain an equitable and reasonable allocation of the shared fresh water resources, taking into account any other water resources to which either party has access.”

Thanks to Ilene Cohen.

Update: This post originally said Amira Hass authored the piece. It is now corrected.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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22 Responses

  1. amigo
    April 13, 2013, 11:03 am

    It takes a lot of water to wash off the stench of occupation.

    The illegal settlers have to take many showers every day.

  2. ritzl
    April 13, 2013, 11:34 am

    And that 15-70 liters is for ALL uses (crops, livestock, commercial, and industrial), not just personal use like washing, cooking, and flushing.

    EWASH is a great site and org.

    • ritzl
      April 13, 2013, 4:07 pm

      ALL uses link: link to btselem.org

      To refine the point, it would be almost impossible for any western person to live on that amount of average water. Significant economic decline would have to be involved, which is precisely Israel’s objective wrt Palestinian society.

      There’s so many protestations that “if only” the Palestinians would do this or that, they could “bootstrap” themselves up into prosperity. Just based on water allocation, that is an impossibility.

      • Bumblebye
        April 13, 2013, 8:54 pm

        And don’t forget they’re charged at least THREE times as much for their OWN water as the Israelis and settlers who steal it are! That is extremely detrimental to an agrarian economy.

  3. just
    April 13, 2013, 11:35 am

    More disgusting criminal and inhumane behavior supported by the US.

    How can we allow the deprivation of the very basic need for life……….water?

  4. Blownaway
    April 13, 2013, 11:52 am

    from the beginning of this conflict there has been this myth that Israel made the desert bloom. The reality is that certain parts of the west bank (the parts where the settlements sit) is part of the historic fertile crescent of the middle east and its because of the water underneath. This battle is as much about the water as it is the land. This is ultimately why israel cant agree to peace because then they must agree to empty their swimming pools

  5. Ramzi Jaber
    April 13, 2013, 12:30 pm

    Palestinians often get water once a week sometimes twice, all have installed water tanks on rooftops to be able to function as human being.

    Meanwhile, across the road, illegal criminal zionist colonialists are awash with water for their lawns, to clean their cars, and to fill their pools on our stolen land and acquifers.

    Thank you USA for the occupation. The US Government is the occupier and colonialist.

    1S1P1V – one state, one person, one vote. Let’s march together – Christians, Moslems, Jews, all peace-loving people in the world – let’s march together, united in our goal, determined to overcome, confident of the future. Thank you.

    • Annie Robbins
      April 13, 2013, 8:28 pm

      Palestinians often get water once a week sometimes twice, all have installed water tanks on rooftops to be able to function as human being.

      Ramzi, i read this MW story when i first woke up this morning (after a dream about Mohammad Saba’aneh and israel targeting talent) and it reminded me of the fantastic movie about water scarcity i ran into the other day after doing a simple search for a photo i remembered on my twitter feed the day filmmaker Mohammad al-Azza was shot in the face by occupation forces.

      phil’s story today jolted my memory. the chase scene in the movie (4:46, my favorite part) is one replicated by palestinians over and over i presume, and there’s even a roof scene with the water tank and the man talking about water, the everyday nakba.

      • Ramzi Jaber
        April 13, 2013, 10:22 pm

        Annie, thanks for that. I would add that my Mom became obsessed with the water situation since without it we couldn’t eat or wash. Since we had a small apartment and only got a small tank on the roof, when the water comes once a week, my Mom would fill all the pots and pans in the kitchen as well as any buckets she has to use to clean the floor and the washroom. A worse thing happened once where someone’s house caught fire and the firemen had no water to extinguish it so the house burnt down to the ground. All of that while the settlers swim in their pools on the hills just an eyesight away…. Talk about a terrible feeling of helplessness and anger. Tragic indeed.

    • libra
      April 14, 2013, 8:40 am

      Ramzi Jaber: Thank you USA for the occupation. The US Government is the occupier and colonialist.

      Ramzi, does this mean your demand for equal rights in a single democratic state is addressed to the US Government and not Israel and the Israeli people? How does that work? Do you really think the future of the Palestinians will be decided in Washington?

      • Hostage
        April 15, 2013, 10:53 am

        Ramzi, does this mean your demand for equal rights in a single democratic state is addressed to the US Government and not Israel and the Israeli people? How does that work? Do you really think the future of the Palestinians will be decided in Washington?

        Israel obviously believes that the United States and other western governments can make cessions of Palestinian territory to Zionists.

        1) When Zionists explain their right to colonize Palestine, they always omit the caveats regarding the rights and position of the Palestinians and cite permission obtained from others, including Washington. For example they cite the British government’s Balfour Declaration, the resolution of the San Remo Conference, the League of Nations Mandate, the Anglo-American Palestine Mandate Convention, and the resolution of the UN General Assembly. Each of those instruments was coordinated in advance with the US government.

        2) When Netanyahu explained that he had destroyed the Oslo Accords, he cited written permission from US Secretary of State Warren Christopher that supposedly granted Israel complete discretion in establishing security zones that Israel could occupy as a result of any final settlement.

        3) The Netanyahu government also complained that a letter from President George Bush allowed Israel to retain the so-called settlement blocks under any final settlement.

        4) The Netanyahu regime protested when President Obama said that the final settlement would be based upon the 1967 borders with agreed swaps in line with resolution 242. Obama backtracked and explained that he meant the 1967 borders would not be an option – despite the fact the Palestinians have never consented to any swaps that would alter the agreed upon Armistice lines.

      • libra
        April 15, 2013, 1:49 pm

        Hostage: Israel obviously believes that the United States and other western governments can make cessions of Palestinian territory to Zionists.

        Hostage, as far as Israelis and Zionists are concerned I’m sure they believe their title to the entire territory is divinely ordained and permission from other governments is simple power politics – a secular stick with which to beat or baffle their opponents.

        But surely the whole point about Palestinians demanding equal rights in a single, democratic state is a move designed to side step territorial negotiations and change the fight into one for legal and political rights?

        The legal question which perhaps you can answer is what entity would grant such rights to the Palestinians? I’m not sure such an entity currently exists as Israel’s control over all the territory of IP is “de facto” rather than legal. Is there a legal basis for claiming equal rights from an occupying power unless they stop their occupation and completely withdraw behind their own borders?

        But whatever the answer is, I don’t think it is the US government which can grant legal and political rights to the Palestinians. Hence the danger in my view of propagating the idea that the US is the coloniser of the Palestinians, which is the point I was originally contesting with Ramzi.

      • Annie Robbins
        April 15, 2013, 3:09 pm

        libra, re “propagating the idea that the US is the coloniser of the Palestinians”

        this is nothing new. i recall a discussion about it in this thread after the author wrote in the main text of the (excellent) article

        The declaration of ‘The Jewish Authority in Eretz Yisrael’

        This is all about American colonialism.

        link to mondoweiss.net

        recommended

      • Hostage
        April 15, 2013, 7:13 pm

        the danger in my view of propagating the idea that the US is the coloniser of the Palestinians, which is the point I was originally contesting with Ramzi.

        Article III of the Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid has always recognized that other organizations, institutions, and representatives of the State must be held criminally responsible whether residing in the territory of the State in which the acts are perpetrated or in some other country. In the past I’ve explained that the colonization of Palestine has always been a joint enterprise without any respect for borders.

        It was originally carried-out against the wishes of the Ottoman government in the 19th century, when Western trade consuls implanted communities of Jewish ex-patriot protégés in Palestine under the auspices of The Capitulations. That practice predated the first Zionist Congress by several decades and has been carried-on non-stop ever since under one convenient legal fiction or another.

        In the 19th century Caroline case and in the modern-day US attacks on Afghanistan and Pakistan, the British and American governments agreed that a hypothetical self-defense exception exists which permits a victim State to ignore the territorial integrity of another country and launch preemptive attacks when belligerents operating there violate customary law regarding neutrality in order to make public appeals for arms, ammunition, volunteers, & etc. See British-American Diplomacy: The Caroline Case link to avalon.law.yale.edu

        There are entire settlements composed of American citizens living in the Etzion Block today. The “Friends of the IDF” in the USA raise millions of dollars annually. There are Israeli-trained staff serving in Campus Hillel positions and in US educational institutions who promote the illegal colonization of Palestine. There are many Americans who enlist in the IDF, like Jeffrey Goldberg, Michael Oren, and Rahm Emanuel. All of that is a violation of customary neutrality and non-intervention now that Palestine has been formally recognized by the international community of States.

        But surely the whole point about Palestinians demanding equal rights in a single, democratic state is a move designed to side step territorial negotiations and change the fight into one for legal and political rights?

        The United States was instrumental in obtaining recognition of the rights of Jews to establish their own polity in Palestine, while at one and the same time making certain that the rights of Palestinian Arabs to enjoy their own polity there have been denied. The proposition of equality of legal and political rights invariably entails territorial questions of jurisdiction that can’t be sidestepped by simply imagining a single, non-existent, democratic state or two of them. The United States has been directly responsible for preventing or postponing indefinitely the adoption of either solution.

      • Ramzi Jaber
        April 15, 2013, 9:43 pm

        libra, with the bombings in Boston, this is the time to think of the innocent victims including children and to send our sincere condolences and prayers to the families of those who were callously murdered, and to those who were physically and emotionally harmed. This was a cowardly, despicable act of terror that has no place in 21st century society.

        I will get back to you with my response to your posts in due time.

      • Ramzi Jaber
        April 17, 2013, 10:23 pm

        libra, here’s my response to your question as promised:

        Yes. Absolutely. Categorically. 100%. The resolution and future of the Palestine-Israel conflict will be resolved and decided in DC. In fact, it will ONLY happen if the US government really wants it. Proof points:

        1) Money. Cut the many billions per year (it’s much more than 3B, BTW) and see the Israeli government withdraw from occupied Palestine in a second. When Bush the father withheld loan GUANRANTEES (not actual monies), Madrid and Oslo happened!

        2) Military support. Without the qualitative and quantitative advantage thanks to the US, and the US military exchanges and drills, Israel cannot maintain its arrogant and belligerent stance.

        3) Protection in the UNSC. Regardless to what Israel does, USA supports it to the hilt even when all other US allies are against. Stop that support and things will change immediately.

        4) Tax breaks for donations to Israel. Back to #1 above, more money pouring into Israel from US donations that are exempt from taxes.

        Simple formula really to achieve peace quickly IF AND ONLY IF the US government wants it. But it doesn’t and never did really since Israel used to be the US’s beachhead on the Mediterranean during the Cold War period. Recently, although some thought that US will need Israel much less with the demise of the Soviet Union, the reality is that recent changes in the ME will still make Israel important to America. Add to that the discovery of natural gas in Israel to replace Saudi/Arab oil just in case US does not become energy-sufficient in the next few years, Israel will certainly still be the “enfant terrible” of the US for generations to come.

        Where do we go from here….???? 1S1P1V…… one state, one person, one vote.

  6. James Canning
    April 13, 2013, 2:49 pm

    Great piece. Perhaps John Kerry needs to tell Israel to stop stealing so much water in the West Bank.

  7. Hostage
    April 13, 2013, 2:56 pm

    International transboundary water consultant David Phillips, who has advised Palestinian negotiators, charges that the Oslo agreement expired in 2000, and was always inequitable.

    The expired Oslo Accords are, and were, irrelevant. Articles 7 and 8 of the 4th Geneva Convention prohibit an Occupying Power from concluding any special agreement with the inhabitants that renounces in part or in entirety the rights secured to them under the convention. In the case of Palestine that includes the grave breach associated with the extensive Israeli misappropriation of natural resources, not justified by any military necessity. link to icrc.org

    Errol Mendes, a visiting scholar at the ICC, authored an advisory opinion on the legal effects of the Oslo Accords and Palestinian Statehood which pointed out that the Accords had lapsed a long time ago:

    There is an element of irrationality for anyone to suggest that the Palestinian State can not even declare independence after the Oslo Accords expired on September 13, 2000 as it contained an obligation to refrain from doing anything to undermine the object and purpose of the Accords such as a unilateral declaration of independence. There is no international law authority supporting this position and if it was accurate, it would also call into question the legitimacy of Israel’s actions since the expiration of the Oslo Accords, given the illegal expansion of settlements in the West Bank.

    Moreover, the Palestinian Declaration had been pronounced long before the Oslo Accords and its permanence and legality has been recognized by over half the world’s states.

    link to icc-cpi.int

    The UN has incorporated the doctrine of “permanent sovereignty” of indigenous peoples over their natural resources into the “territorial integrity norm” of international law. Onerous agreements, like the Oslo Accords or long term concessions granted under duress to western cartels during the colonial era, have long since been declared null and void.

    Every year the UN General Assembly reaffirms the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people over their natural resources and the obligation of Israel as an Occupying Power to compensate Palestine for the resources it has wrongfully appropriated.

  8. gingershot
    April 13, 2013, 9:25 pm

    Let’s see, for the obsessive ethnic cleansers all that’s left is to somehow start cutting down the oxygen to Palestinians, and then their efforts would be complete.

  9. Accentitude
    April 14, 2013, 7:39 am

    They also have access to more electricity too. We’re getting closer to the summer when water and electricity usage will go up…and that means that we’re going to get cut off from water and electricity more often. I’m expecting no water 3-4 days a week and no electricity, a couple to several hours sporadically. Last Summer in the middle of dead heat, we had no water for 2 weeks straight. That was fun….

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