Is Water Equitably Distributed throughout Israel and the Palestinian Territories?
Haim Gvirtzman, PhD, Full Professor of Hydrology at the Institute of Earth Sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in Jan. 2012 report for Mideast Security and Policy Studies titled “The Israeli-Palestinian Water Conflict: An Israeli Perspective,” wrote:
“The Palestinians claim that the water consumption of the average Israeli is four times greater than that of the average Palestinian. However, this claim is not factually supported. In 1967, there was indeed a large gap in the per capita consumption of water between Israelis and Palestinians… This gap, however, was reduced… and the difference is now negligible…
The current per capita consumption is 150 m3/c/y for Israelis versus 140 m3/c/y for Palestinians…
The Palestinians’ claim about a larger gap in per capita water consumption arises from a discrepancy in the recorded official number of Palestinians living under the PA. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) reported in 2004 on 2.4 million Palestinians residing in Judea and Samaria, while the American-Israeli Demographic Research Group (AIDRG) calculated only 1.4 million… A major part of the discrepancy between the PCBS and AIDRG results from the different definitions of de facto residents used by each. For example, the PCBS includes the 250,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and the 150,000 Palestinians who immigrated to Israel through marriage and the family unification program, while the AIDRG does not include these individuals because they are actually Israeli citizens… Additionally, the PCBS has increased the supposed number of de facto Palestinian residents by 400,000 by including those who have been living abroad for many years, while the AIDRG excludes this group in its count… The remaining discrepancy results from different calculations and predictions surrounding birth, death and immigration rates.”Jan. 2012 - Haim Gvirtzman, PhD
David M. Weinberg, MA, Director of Public Affairs at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University at the time of the quote, in a July 11, 2013 article for the Jerusalem Post titled, “Palestinian Lies Like Water,” wrote:
“It comes back again and again: The canard that Israel is denying West Bank Palestinians water rights negotiated under the Oslo Accords…
You have to read the fine print to discover that illegal Palestinian tapping into Israel’s water lines and massive Palestinian water wastage are the causes of the problem. You have to study the issue in depth to discover that it is not Israeli ‘occupation policy’ but Palestinian political resistance against joint water management and cooperation that is responsible for the slow development of the Palestinian water sector. The PA considers water and waste as weapons against Israel, not as areas of cooperation with Israel…
Israel’s population stands at 7.2 million, five times the actual West Bank Palestinian population of 1.4 million. Proportionately, Israel controls 1,200 m.c.m. [million cubic meters] of the available natural fresh water, and the PA 220 m.c.m. In per capita terms, this works out to about 160 metric cubes of water per person per annum in both Israel and the PA.”July 11, 2013 - David M. Weinberg, MA
The Israel Project (TIP), an educational organization dedicated to informing the media and the public about Israel and the Middle East, in a Mar. 22, 2012 press release titled “Water: Facts About Israeli and Palestinian Use, Agreements,” available from their website, wrote:
“Israel is in full compliance with the terms for water use and supply as outlined in the Oslo II peace process and delineated in the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement. In fact, Israel provided 30 percent more water to the Palestinians than required, with the total amount of water available to them exceeding agreed-upon terms.
When Israel first gained control of the West Bank in 1967, just four of the 708 Palestinian towns and villages could access running water. Now, 641 of those areas – and more than 96 percent of the Palestinian population – have access to running water. Israel’s network of pipes boosted water supply for Palestinians from 64 million cubic meters (MCM) per year to 120 MCM per year. Despite Palestinian claims, there is almost no difference in the amount of water Israelis and Palestinians use. As of 2012, per capita water use is 150 MCM for Israelis and 140 MCM for Palestinians.”Mar. 22, 2012 - The Israel Project (TIP)
Israel’s Water Authority, in a Feb. 2012 presentation titled “The Water Issue Between Israel and the Palestinians: Main Facts,” available from their website, wrote:
“The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement of September 28, 1995, signed in Washington, including the ‘Water Agreement’ (Annex 3, Appendix 1, Article 40), clearly stipulates the manner in which the parties must act in the field of water in the West Bank… [under this agreement] Palestinian Water Rights in the West Bank are recognized and shall be negotiated in the permanent status agreement… Israel fulfills its obligations according to the Water Agreement and beyond, as shown in the following:
1. Israel has made available approximately 70 MCM [million
cubic meters]/year of water to the Palestinians in the West Bank during the interim period, even though the Water Agreement allocates a much smaller quantity of only 23.6 MCM/year (for the West Bank).
2. Israel supplies the Palestinians with 52 MCM of water which is far beyond its obligation in the Water Agreement (31 MCM)…
The amount of available RFNW [renewable fresh natural water] per capita per year in 2010
a. 150 m3 for Israel = 1170 MCM divided by 7.8 million residents
b. 124 m3 for the Palestinians = 248* MCM divided by 2 million residents
* 196 MCM is the amount of water allocated to the Palestinians in the West Bank according to the Water Agreement + 52 MCM which is the additional amount supplied directly by Israel.
Israel’s water sector is acting accordingly and it proved to be effective.”Feb. 2012 - Israel Water Authority
The Palestine Liberation Organization Negotiations Affairs Department (PLONAD), in the “Water” section of its website, available from www.nad.ps, (accessed Aug. 11, 2015), wrote:
“The Middle East is one of the world’s most water-stressed regions. It is therefore essential that water is shared equitably. Since its 1967 occupation of the oPt [occupied Palestinian territories], Israel has completely controlled our water resources and deprived us of access to a sufficient share of water, in violation of international law. Instead, Israel has used our water resources for its illegal settlements and its own population, forcing our communities to purchase water from Israeli companies at high commercial prices…
Israel utilizes approximately 86 percent of available shared fresh water resources (including groundwater resources and surface water resources), leaving our population with less than 14 percent… If water resources were shared on the basis of equal per capita shares today, given the population breakdown, we would receive approximately 38 percent of the total resource, instead of the above mentioned 14 percent.”Aug. 11, 2015 - Palestine Liberation Organization Negotiations Affairs Department (PLONAD)
The Palestinian Hydrology Group (PHG), a Palestinian non-governmental organization, in the “Fast Facts” section of its website, available at www.phg.org (accessed Aug. 5, 2015), wrote:
“Israel currently abstracts around 58.3% of its [the Jordan River’s] water, leaving Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine with the following percentages: 25.76%, 12.12%, 0.38%, and finally 0% respectively.
The Western Aquifer Basin is the most important aquifer in the West Bank. Its annual replenishment capacity is estimated at 362 MCM [million cubic meters]. Almost 70% of the recharge area of the aquifer is located in the West Bank. Palestinians are only permitted to use a small portion of the aquifers water through wells drilled before the 1967 occupation. The total quantity that Palestinian wells use to abstract prior to the construction of the separation wall is estimated at 20 MCM.”Aug. 5, 2015 - Palestinian Hydrology Group (PHG)
Al-Haq, an independent Palestinian non-governmental organization, in a 2013 report titled “Water for One People Only: Discriminatory Access and ‘Water Apartheid’ in the OPT,” available from their website, wrote:
“Israeli per capita consumption of water for domestic use is four to five times higher than that of the Palestinian population of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). In the West Bank, the Israeli settler population, numbering more than 500,000, consumes approximately six times the amount of water used by the Palestinian population of almost 2.6 million; this discrepancy is even greater when water used for agricultural purposes is taken into account… The level of unrestricted access to water enjoyed by those residing in Israel and Israeli settlers demonstrates that resources are plentiful and that the lack of sufficient water for Palestinians is a direct result of Israel’s discriminatory policies in water management.”
2013 - Al-Haq
B’tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, in a May 10, 2014 article titled “Water Crisis: Discriminatory Water Supply,” wrote:
“The Oslo Accords perpetuated the discrimination in allocation of water between Israel and the Palestinians. They allotted 80% of the water pumped from the mountain aquifer – one of three underground water reserves shared by Israel and the Palestinians – to Israel and only 20% to the Palestinians. They Accords further established there would be no cap to the supply of water to Israelis, whereas the water supply to Palestinians would be limited to predetermined amounts, namely approximately 118 million cubic meters (mcm) from drilling points active prior to the signing of the Accords and another 70-80 mcm or so from new ones…
Due to the inequitable distribution, Palestinians must make do with less water than Israelis. The World Health Organization and USAID both recommend a minimum of 100 liters of water per person/per day. This amount includes is not only for domestic use but includes supply to hospitals, schools, businesses, and other public institutions. Palestinian average daily consumption of water is about a third less than the recommended amount. The figures on water allocation make the discrimination between Israelis and Palestinians patently palpable.”May 10, 2014 - B'Tselem
Amnesty International, in a 2009 report titled “Troubled Waters – Palestinians Denied Fair Access to Water,” available from their website, wrote:
“The inequality in access to water between Israelis and Palestinians is striking. Palestinian consumption in the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories] is about 70 litres a day per person – well below the 100 litres per capita daily recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) – whereas Israeli daily per capita consumption, at about 300 litres, is about four times as much. In some rural communities Palestinians survive on far less than even the average 70 litres, in some cases barely 20 litres per day, the minimum amount recommended by the WHO for emergency situations response.
Access to water resources by Palestinians in the OPT is controlled by Israel and the amount of water available to Palestinians is restricted to a level which does not meet their needs and does not constitute a fair and equitable share of the shared water resources. Israel uses more than 80 per cent of the water from the Mountain Aquifer, the only source of underground water in the OPT, as well as all of the surface water available from the Jordan River of which Palestinians are denied any share…
In the Gaza Strip, the only water resource, the southern end of the Coastal Aquifer, is insufficient for the needs of the population but Israel does not allow the transfer of water from the West Bank to Gaza. The aquifer has been depleted and contaminated by over-extraction and by sewage and seawater infiltration, and 90-95 per cent of its water is contaminated and unfit for human consumption.”2009 - Amnesty International