Water!

“They cannot make peace with thirsty people.” — Fadel Kaawash of the Palestinian Water Authority, as quoted in Blue Gold: The Battle Against Corporate Theft of the World’s Water.


From the Madison Rafah Journal in 2007:

Israeli Water Authority spokesman Uri Schor denied that the Israeli water company Mekorot, which supplies water to the PWA, was either cutting off or decreasing water supply to the Palestinians.Schor told the Middle East Times, “Israel is actually supplying the PWA with more water than was agreed to in the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement signed in Washington in 1995 and how the PWA chooses to distribute the water is up to them.”

At present the Palestinians get approximately 40 million cubic meters from Israel and the same amount annually from wells and springs in the West Bank, according to Kaawash.

“The consumption rate in the West Bank is less than 50 liters per capita per day in 90 percent of communities connected to networks,” said Kaawash. “The situation in Gaza is even more dire.”

According to the World Health Organization the minimum requirement for domestic consumption is 100 liters per capita per day.

Kaawash said the daily consumption of Israelis is between 300-400 liters, a figure backed by Israeli geography professor, Moshe Inbal. The average in London and other Western capitals is about 200 liters.

“The Palestinians are obviously not getting their fair share,” said Rima Abu Middan, the Natural Capital team leader from the U.N. Development Program in Jerusalem. “The amount being supplied is inadequate and the Israelis should be obliged to supply more.”

Approximately 85 percent of the West Bank’s water resources are appropriated by the Israelis, the Palestinians get the remaining 15 percent and much of this they have to purchase from Mekorot.

Under international law and according to various U.N. Security Council resolutions the West Bank and its resources belong to the Palestinians so they should not have to be either sharing the water with or purchasing it from Israel.

This is not a story for mainstream media consumption in the United States.  Water and other fundamental issues which naturally precede the ideal of “peace” have been removed from the context of the discussion.  Americans, largely the direct descendants or “racial benefactors” of a people who seized land by force are only going to have so much sympathy for a defenseless group of people in some far away desert.  Frankly, were it not for wide-spread anti-Semitism, American Jews and Israelis would curry much more favor by acting as an aggrieved party of settler colonial whites.  It worked for the South Africans and the Rhodesians.  As it stands, the American public is only periodically sympathetic to Israelis or Palestinians.  In a nation that vacillates between fascination with Charlie Sheen and the latest comic book character turned feature film star, chronic political fatigue best defines our “posture” on the Middle East.

Americans want the problem to just go away.  It won’t go away.  The root of the problem isn’t merely about the “ethnicity” of the participants.  Underneath all of this tension is a willingness of one of these parties to strip the other side of the barest of necessities, water, and lie about it — with a straight face.  Good luck at that bargaining table.

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