by Prof. Haim Gvirtzman
This important new study by Prof. Haim Gvirtzman, based on previously classified data, refutes Palestinian claims that Israel is denying West Bank Palestinians water rights negotiated under the Oslo Accords. The study also proposes a practical plan for Israeli-Palestinian water sharing in the future.
In this BESA Center study, hydrologist Prof. Haim Gvirtzman of the Institute of Earth Sciences at the Hebrew University examines Palestinian water claims against Israel by presenting detailed information about water supply systems presently serving Israelis and Palestinians. He also discusses international law and shows that the Palestinians have little basis for their water demands.
Gvirtzman relies on previously classified data, recently released for publication by the Israeli Water Authority – 15 years after the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement. The data shows that currently there is almost no difference in per capita consumption of natural water between Israelis and Palestinians.
Nevertheless, the Palestinian Authority claims that it suffers from water shortages in its towns and villages due to the Israeli occupation and cites international law in support of its claims. These claims amount to more than 700 million cubic meters of water per year (MCM/Y), including rights over the groundwater reservoir of the Mountain Aquifer, the Gaza Strip Coastal Aquifer and the Jordan River. These demands amount to more than 50 percent of the total natural water available between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.
But contrary to Palestinian claims, Gvirtzman demonstrates that Israel has fulfilled all of its obligations according to the agreements it signed in 1995 with the Palestinian Authority, and in fact has exceeded them. The PA currently consumes 200 MCM of water every year (with Israel providing about 50 MCM of this) – which, under the accords, is more than Israel is supposed to provide a full-fledged Palestinian state under a final settlement arrangement.
In contrast, the Palestinians have violated their part of the agreement by drilling over 250 unauthorized wells, which draw about 15 MCM/Y of water, and connecting these pirate wells to its electricity grid. Moreover, the PA has illegally and surreptitiously connected itself in many places to the water lines of Israel's Mekorot National Water Company – stealing Israel's water.
Palestinian famers also routinely overwater their crops through old-fashioned, wasteful flooding methods. Gvirtzman says that at least one-third of the water being pumped out of the ground by the Palestinians (again, in violation of their accords with Israel) is wasted through leakage and mismanagement. No recycling of water takes place and no treated water is used for agriculture.
In fact, 95 percent of the 56 million cubic meters of sewage produced by the Palestinians each year is not treated at all. Only one sewage plant has been built in the West Bank in the last 15 years, despite there being a $500 million international donor fund available for this purpose. “The Palestinians refuse to build sewage treatment plants,” Gvirtzman says. “The PA is neither judicious nor neighborly in its water usage and sewage management.”
Gvirtzman further shows that the Palestinians have little basis for their water demands according to international legal norms. First, the signed water agreement overrules all other parameters. Second, Israel's historical possession of the Mountain Aquifer was established in the 1940s. Third, the Palestinians should not exploit groundwater from the Western Aquifer, which is fully utilized by Israel, before first exploiting groundwater from the non-utilized Eastern Aquifer. Finally, the Palestinians should be preventing leaks in domestic pipelines, implementing conservative irrigation techniques, and reusing sewage water as irrigation.
The fact that the Palestinians have taken none of these steps and have not adopted any sustainable development practices precludes their demands for additional water from Israel, writes Gvirtzman.
The full study is online.
Mark LangfanThe writer, who writes on security issues, has created an original educational 3d Topographic Map System of Israel to facilitate clear understanding of the dangers facing Israel and its water supply. It has been studied by US lawmakers and can be seen at www.marklangfan.com.
The IWA Report debunks the BDS (boycott-divest-sanction) myth that “Israel is stealing West Bank water from the Palestinians,”
In fact, the IWA Report provides documentary and graphic evidence that the Palestinians have ““stolen”” water from Israel in direct, and constant “breach” of the Oslo Accords.
The IWA Report is full of clear and colorful graphics which illustrate many of the "West Bank" Water issues. For example, the graphic below shows how the Tel Aviv Yarkon-Taninim coastal aquifer is recharged by rainfall in the "West Bank" (Judea and Samaria).
Israel supplies to the Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria 46 million cubic meters (MCM) a year more water than Israel is obligated to under the Oslo Accords.
Israel supplies to the Palestinian Arabs, as a whole, 52 MCM a year more water than Israel is obligated to under the Oslo accords.
In direct breach of the Oslo accords, the Palestinian Arabs have drilled over 300 unauthorized wells in the "West Bank". (This “off the books” extra water, drawn by the Palestinian Authority, is in addition to the extra 52 MCM of water Israel has allocated to the Palestinian Arabs above the required Oslo Accords allotment.)
The Palestinian Arabs do not treat their sewage water which is contaminating the Western Samarian aquifer that topographically runs westward down the western half of the Samarian "West Bank" Mountains to the Tel Aviv coastal plain aquifers. (See this reporter’s graphic compilation.)
In direct breach of the Oslo accords, the Palestinian Authority is not developing any new sources of water, either through sewage treatment or desalination.
Recently the BESA Institute released a report by the internationally renowned, Hebrew University water-expert Dr. Haim Gvirtzman entitled “The Israeli-Palestinian Water conflict: An Israeli Perspective” which asserted that “despite there being a $500 million international Donor fund available” for the building of sewage treatment plants, “The Palestinians refuse to build sewage treatment plants.”
The Gvirtzman BESA Report is an excellent and thorough explanatory paper that fills in the IWA Report, and clearly elaborates many of the underlying "West Bank" water issues.
The two reports are a “must read” for anyone trying to counter the BDS “water” blood-libel against Israel.
This article was first posted on March 22, 2012. The situation has not changed..