Water in Israel / PA-Gaza

500 words on the water problem between Israel and the Palestinians

Israel is often accused of “stealing” water from the Palestinians, a false and malicious accusation. There are those who assume that Israel should “ensure that all Palestinian water pipes are always full” because it is a humanitarian debt or because they have not read the Oslo Accords.

The water division arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians was established in the Oslo B Agreement of September 1995, in Article 40 of the Civil Issues Protocols (Annex 3), which states that Israel will use 80% of the water from the mountain aquifer and the Palestinians another 20%, the Palestinians would continue to draw 118 million cubic meters in the west from already prepared sites and would use new wells in the east of the mountain to get another 70-80 million per year. Today, instead of 118 million cubic meters, they draw 87 million. Why? Because their machines are old and their professional dedication is amateurish.

According to the Oslo B Agreements, the Palestinian Authority established the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) so that from that moment on all water issues were in Palestinian hands.

In Oslo B, (1995) it was established that Gaza would be a separate entity and, apart from a small amount of water to be sold to it by Israel (today 7% of its expenditure), the PPA in Gaza was to manage its water using the coastal aquifer. The Gazans were not going to help themselves with pipes from the West Bank, but were to be autonomous, because technically they could.

In the West Bank, most Palestinian residents and businesses in the West Bank and Gaza do not pay the Palestinian Authority for the water they use, either in their homes or in their fields. On top of that, they suffer seepage and water loss at 33% of the expense.

Gaza’s natural aquifer is capable of regenerating 85 million cubic meters per year. Total water consumption in the Strip stands at 150 million cubic meters… an extreme over-consumption. This, together with sewage seeping into the ground and lack of maintenance of structures leads to serious contamination and salt pollution of Gaza’s aquifer. To that, add the war provoked by Hamas itself from Gaza. Only a very disturbed person can accuse Israel of Palestinian slovenliness. Water is another weapon to demonize Israel.

In June 2016 Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said, “When there is not enough water in Gaza, the aquifers get polluted and when the aquifers get polluted, this is not limited to the Gaza side of the aquifer. Therefore, it is very much in Israel’s interest to deal with the water problem in the Gaza Strip.”

The current humanitarian crisis in Gaza is a product of the failed governance of the Hamas leadership and its lack of cooperation with the Palestinian Authority (PA), the restrictions imposed by the Israeli blockade, and Gaza’s over-reliance on the donor community.