In this posting, factsheet from the Center for Economic and Social Rights; an excerpt – Israeli Military Orders – from Amnesty International’s report, Troubled Waters, and a factsheet from Stop the Wall, Nurturing Water Apartheid in Palestine, on Israel’s water company Mekorot.
Infographic by Michael Vexler, www.vex.co.il
THE RIGHT TO WATER IN PALESTINE: A BACKGROUND
Factsheet by Center for Economic and Social Rights
The Israeli confiscation and control of Palestinian water resources is a defining feature of the Israeli occupation and a major impediment to a just resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Furthermore, Israel’s control of Palestinian water resources undermines any possibility for sustainable development and violates Palestinians’ human right to safe, accessible, and accessible, and adequate drinking water.
Israel’s discriminatory water policy maintains an unequal allocation of water between Israel, illegal Israeli settler communities and Palestinians living in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), while appropriating an ever greater portion of Palestinian water resources for its own use. In a water-scarce region, Israeli water policy hinges on finding more water to maintain present consumption levels – regardless of the sustainability of current patterns of water use by Israelis and settlers. In 1993, the Israeli State Controller said that the West Bank is the “principal reservoir of drinking water for the Dan region, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Beersheba” and the “most important long-term source in the [national] water system”
• Israel controls a disproportionate amount of the two water systems it shares with Palestine. It effectively controls 100 percent of the Jordan River basin and more than 80 percent of underground water resources from the Western (Mountain) aquifer.
• Israel uses 85% of groundwater resources available in the West Bank – accounting for 25 percent of Israel’s water consumption.
• In 1964, Israel completed the construction of the National Water Carrier, begun in 1953. This enormous water project, a network of pipelines pumping stations, reservoirs and canals extending from the Sea of Galilee to the Negev, diverts 75 percent of the waters of the Jordan River to Israel. While Syria and Jordan are allowed to use 160 mcm per year and 320 mcm per year respectively, Palestinians are prohibited from using any water from the Jordan River.
• After 1967, Israel took control over all water resources in the newly occupied Palestinian territories by a series of military orders that negated all previous and existing settlements of water disputes, set pumping quotas and forbade construction of new wells by Palestinians without permission from the area Israeli military commander. Since 1967, permits have been granted for only 23 new wells.
The River Jordan, L. in 2010, R. in 1918. Photo from Friends of the Earth Middle East
• In 1982, the Israeli national water authority, Mekorot, took control of Palestinian water. While many existing Palestinian wells were being destroyed, digging and pumping for deeper wells for Israeli use continued –effectively drying up older Palestinian wells.
• In 1986, Israel reduced the quotas for the amount of water Palestinians could pump from their wells by 10%, resulting in widespread water scarcity.
• In 1995, under the Oslo II Accord, division of water sources was designated as an issue for “final status negotiations” – a device used by Israel to continue illegal appropriation of Palestinian water resources from 1995 until the present (the “final status negotiations” of Oslo have never been reached). A Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) was set up, but Israel maintained control of the total flow and volume of water to the oPt. While the PWA has no ability to manage water resources and just allocates the limited supply made available by Israel, the PWA, rather than the Occupation, is blamed for water scarcity. Moreover, the Oslo II agreement does not call for redistribution of existing water sources nor require any reduction in water extraction or consumption by Israelis or settlers.
• Since 2000, after the onset of the Second Intifada in September, the Israeli army has intensified the destruction of water infrastructure and confiscation of water sources in the West Bank and Gaza.
COMPARING WATER USE
Both absolutely and proportionately, Israelis use a far greater amount of the region’s total water resources. Settlers use nearly 600 litres of water each day. Palestinian water use does not even meet the minimum daily standard of 100 litres as recommended by the World Health Organisation.
VIOLATIONS OF PALESTINIANS’ RIGHT TO WATER
With no piped water, Palestinian boys fetch it to load onto their water carrier, a donkey. Photo by Issam Rimawi / APA images.
While Israelis and settlers get continuous water supply from Mekorot all year-round at subsidized prices, Palestinians face these situations:
• Irregular water supply across the West Bank, particularly in the water-scarce summer months.
• Depleted/contaminated/salinated water in Gaza because of over-extraction of the Coastal Aquifer – due in part to the fact that Palestinians are not allowed to develop or repair water infrastructure.
• Water distribution network losses of 30 –50% because of deteriorating networks and leaky pipes in dire need of repair.
• No piped water at all for 215,000 Palestinians in 150 West Bank villages (26% of West Bank households).
• Many Palestinians must buy water – either from Mekorot, or from private suppliers selling expensive and unregulated trucked water. Even within the oPt, Mekorot’s prices are different for Palestinians and Israeli settlers.
SINCE THE SECOND INTIFADA: IN THE NAME OF “SECURITY”
• Destruction of water infrastructure. The Israeli army have bulldozed pipelines and destroyed at least 15 wells in the West Bank and Gaza since September 2000 – eliminating the largest water source for many Palestinian villages and towns. Between March and May of 2002 alone, the World Bank, UNDP and USAID estimate that damage to West Bank water supply and sewerage infrastructure by the Israeli military reached US$7 million.
• Limited access to trucked water. Israel’s policy of ‘closure’ severely limits access to water carriers in a context where more than a third of all Palestinians rely on buying water from private or municipal tankers for their water needs.
• Increased price of water. Water tankers delayed at checkpoints raise their prices by almost 80% because of the increased transportation time due to closure. With 70-90% of the workforce unemployed, Palestinians spend as much as 39% of their household expenditure on purchasing water.
• Ban on drilling wells. In October 2002, Israeli infrastructure minister Effi Eitam banned Palestinians from drilling for water and placed a freeze on the issue of future permits for wells.
• Separation from water sources. In June of 2002, the Israeli government authorized a plan to build a ‘security wall’ – more accurately referred to as a ‘Separation Wall’ or ‘Apartheid Wall’ – with electric fences, trenches and security patrols along the entire 220 mile length of the West Bank. However, the Wall is not being built along the ‘Green Line’ (the de facto pre-1967 border between Israel and the West Bank) – but rather inside the West Bank.
The Wall separates thousands of Palestinians from their land and water sources. In the first phase of the wall, several agriculture-dependent villages in the northern West Bank will lose access to 30 groundwater wells.
• Increase in water-borne diseases: Recent surveys have found infection rates from waterrelated diseases as high as 64% in certain communities in the West Bank. A recent study shows that over a quarter of rural households in the West Bank has a member suffering from diarrhoea; over half of these households had not had adequate bathing water for over two weeks
POLLUTION OF PALESTINIAN WATER SOURCES BY ISRAEL
• Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza are mostly located on hilltops and dump manure, untreated sewage and wastewater into the valleys – polluting Palestinian water sources and agricultural land. According to 1997 figures from the West Bank, settlers were 6 times more polluting that Palestinians (300,000 settlers produced 30 mcm of wastewater a year, while in the same period, 1,870,000 Palestinians produced 31 mcm of wastewater).
• Highly polluting Israeli industries are being relocated to the West Bank (again, on hilltops) to avoid Israeli environmental regulations. At least 200 industries in 7 industrial zones in the West Bank send untreated industrial effluents and wastewater into Palestinian streams and agricultural land.
• In February 2001, Israel discharged 3.5 million cubic meters of untreated wastewater mixed with rainwater into northern Gaza strip towns.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
The Palestinian Hydrology Group (PHG) haslaunched the Palestine Water for Life Campaign to promote worldwide awareness of the water and sanitation situation in Palestine, as well as todevelop coordinated, comprehensive responses to the water crisis among donor, development, relief, human rights, and other NGOs. Please visit the campaign website at www.phg.org/campaign for more information about how you can support their efforts.
The Palestinian Environmental NGO Network (PENGON) has initiated the Apartheid Wall Campaign to raise awareness of andorganize opposition to the “Separation Wall” which is threatening Palestinians’ access to and control over their own water resources. Learn more about the Campaign and how to support PENGON at www.pengon.org.
Educate your community! Organize teach-ins about water issues in Palestine with experienced speakers at schools, congregations, and community centers.
Contact the media! Call radio programs, write letters and opinion pieces, and meet with reporters and editors to ensure that they cover the assault on Palestinian water resources.
Visit our website to learn more about the water crisis in Palestine.
Center for Economic and Social Rights | 162 Montague Street | Brooklyn, NY 11201 | 718-237-9145 | email@example.com | www.cesr.org
Israeli forces destroy a Palestinian-owned water tank in Dura village near Hebron in the occupied West Bank, 2012. Photo by Mamoun Wazwaz / APA images
Troubled Waters – Palestinians denied fair access to water
Report from Amnesty International, [to read or download the full 100 page report click headline above]
Israeli Military Orders
When Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip in June 1967, a multilayer legal system existed in the OPT, MADE UP of Ottoman, British, Jordanian (in the West Bank) and Egyptian (in Gaza) laws – the legacy of the powers that had previously controlled the area. The Israeli army issued a series of Military Orders seizing control of water and land resources in the OPT.
Military Order 92, issued on 15 August 1967, granted complete authority over all waterrelated issues in the OPT to the Israeli army.
Military Order 158 of 19 November 1967 stipulated that Palestinians could not construct any new water installation without first obtaining a permit from the Israeli army and that any water installation or resource built without a permit would be confiscated.
Military Order 291 of 19 December 1968 annulled all land and water-related arrangements which existed prior to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.
These and other Israeli Military Orders remain in force today in the OPT and apply only to Palestinians. They do NOT apply to Israeli settlers in the OPT, who are subject to Israeli civilian law.
The Israeli army also took control of the West Bank Water Department (WBWD), which had been established by Jordan in 1966 to develop and maintain the West Bank water supply system. The WBWD operates some 13 wells that are located in the West Bank and are mostly controlled by Israel. The water from these wells is sold to Palestinian communities and to Israeli settlements.
In 1982 the West Bank water infrastructure controlled by the Israeli army was handed over to Mekorot, the Israeli national water company. Mekorot operates some 42 wells in the West Bank, mainly in the Jordan Valley region, which mostly supply the Israeli settlements.
Mekorot sells some water to the Palestinian water utilities, but the amount that it sells is determined by the Israeli authorities, not by Mekorot.
Under the new Israeli military regime imposed in the OPT, Palestinians could no longer drill new wells or rehabilitate or even just repair existing ones, or carry out other any water-related projects (from pipes, networks, and reservoirs to wells and springs and even rainwater cisterns), without first obtaining a permit from the Israeli army. In theory, such permits for drilling or rehabilitating wells could be obtained after a lengthy and complicated bureaucratic process; in practice, most applications for such permits were rejected. Only 13 permits were granted in the 29 years from 1967 to 1996 (when the PWA was established), but all of these were for projects for domestic use only and they were not sufficient to make up even for the replacement of wells that had dried up or fallen into disrepair since 1967.
Meanwhile, Israel continued to develop its own water infrastructure, both within Israel itself and in the OPT, reducing the yield of existing Palestinians wells and springs in the OPT, and cutting off Palestinian access to the Jordan river and the springs along the river’s bank. Israel devoted considerable resources to developing water networks and infrastructure to serve the illegal settlements which it established in the OPT, but consistently neglected the development and maintenance of the water infrastructure for the Palestinians, who were required to pay their taxes to the Israeli military administration but received few services in return. For the most part any benefits accrued to the Palestinian population were incidental.
For example, some Palestinian communities were connected to water networks which served nearby Israeli settlements or military bases.
The regime put in place by the Israeli army not only prevented the development of new Palestinian wells and infrastructure, but also limited the use and upkeep of existing ones. It prevented the rehabilitation of old wells and imposed quotas on the quantity of water which
Palestinians could extract from their wells, capping the amount at the level being extracted at the point when the well was first metered. Meters were installed in the early 1970s to monitor pumping and to ensure Palestinian compliance with the capped allowance. The measures were simply imposed; there was no process of consultation with local Palestinian communities about their needs and how these would be met.
The quotas were set at a time when the levels of extraction from many wells had temporarily diminished due to the 1967 war and the changes it caused, including the displacement of many Palestinians who had fled from the West Bank at the time of the fighting and in its aftermath. Following the war, Palestinian water use dropped drastically due to the reduction in irrigated areas from 100,000 to 57,000 dunums.38 In addition, large areas of Palestinian land had been appropriated by Israel for military use and for Israeli settlements, and had been made inaccessible to Palestinians; and many Palestinians who had previously been farmers in the West Bank were by then working in Israel. As well, many wells had fallen into disrepair or had dried up, including as a result of the drilling of Israeli deep wells.
In addition to those mentioned above, a plethora of military orders issued by the Israeli army were also aimed at, or had the effect of, preventing or restricting Palestinian access to water and land in the OPT. For example, Military Order No. 1039 of 5 January 1983 (Concerning Planting Fruits and Vegetables – broadening the scope of Military Order No 1015 of 27 August 1982 to include vegetable as well as fruits), stipulates that:
“In accordance with the authority vested in me, and in my capacity as commander of the Israel Defense Forces in the region and because I believe that this Order is necessary for the welfare of the residents, and with the intention of preserving the water resources [Amnesty International’s emphasis] and the agricultural product of this region for the general benefit…It is prohibited to develop any vegetables in the Jericho district except after obtaining a written license from the relevant authority according to the conditions the latter demands (Article 2 A).”
Article 10 of the original order, Military Order No 1015, stipulates: “Any person contravening these provisions is punishable by one year’s imprisonment, or a fine of up to 15,000 NIS [about US$5,000] or both, and an additional fine of 500 NIS[about US$160] for each day the contravention continues. If the person has been ordered by a court to uproot the crops planted without a permit, the relevant authority may uproot the crops and impose on the accused all the cost of the uprooting of the crops.”
For four decades, Israeli military orders issued ostensibly to “protect” nature resources and reserves, including water resources, have had a crippling impact on Palestinian agricultural activities throughout the West Bank, while Israeli settlers, during the same period, have been given virtually unlimited access to water supplies to develop and irrigate the large farms which help to support unlawful Israeli settlements.
On 11 March 2008, an Amnesty International delegate witnessed Israeli soldiers destroy a Palestinian farm in the outskirts of Jiftlik, in the Jordan Valley area of the West Bank. Nearby, Israeli settlers have large farms cultivated with verdant irrigated crops.
Mahmud Mat’ab Da’ish, his wife Samar and their seven children and other relatives looked on in dismay as an Israeli army bulldozer uprooted their crops – and their livelihood. Having quickly crushed the young vegetable plants, the army bulldozer continued to drive up and down the field, methodically scooping up and tearing to shreds the drip irrigation system which the family had installed at great cost. Tens of Israeli soldiers in uniforms, accompanied by men in plain clothes, surrounded the area, preventing the farmers from approaching the field. The farmers pleaded with the soldiers to allow them at least to salvage their costly drip irrigation network, but the soldiers refused. The army had uprooted the same field two months earlier but the family had then replanted vegetables in the hope that these would be allowed to survive. A month later the army returned once again, this time to destroy the family’s home – a simple dwelling built of thin corrugated iron sheets, wood and stones. After this, the family was left to live in a tent provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Samar Da’ish told Amnesty International: “Why must they destroy the little we have? What harm have we done by cultivating this small bit of land, so that we can feed our children? Look, they did not spare a single plant.
Why so much cruelty to human beings, to the land, to nature?”
Many other military orders have been issued by the Israeli army which do not specifically refer to water resources but which restrict activities in the water sector. These include orders seizing land or declaring particular areas “closed” on undefined “security grounds”, making them inaccessible to Palestinians. Other military orders have designated Palestinian lands as “firing ranges” for use by the Israeli army or as “state land”, including the areas where Israeli settlements are located. More than a third of all land in the West Bank falls into one or other of these categories, and the restrictions imposed apply only to Palestinians. Israeli settlers, by contrast, have access to these areas, where they have unlawfully appropriated large areas of water-rich Palestinian land.
Israel’s policy has been, and remains, to limit the overall amount of water (and land) available to the Palestinian population, while preserving for itself privileged access to most of the water and land in the OPT. To this end, Israel has not sought to change either the localized system of management of water resources by local councils, notables, and families who own wells located on their lands or the patterns of use of the water allocated to the Palestinians in the OPT. Rather, Israel has imposed restrictions on the overall quantity of water accessible to the Palestinians in the OPT to an extent where it has severely impaired realization of the Palestinians’ right to adequate food, health, work and to achieve a decent standard of living. Israeli policies and restrictions have served to restrict agricultural and industrial development, and have thereby seriously hindered and obstructed social and economic development. According to the World Bank, “The cost to the economy of foregone opportunity in irrigated agriculture is significant, with upper bound preliminary estimates that could be as high as 10% of GDP and 110,000 jobs.”
As noted by the UN Secretary-General in 1992: “The general settlement policy of confiscating land and imposing restrictions on water resources has meant that a large proportion of the population that would normally have earned a living by traditional agriculture have gradually begun to seek employment in Israel as unskilled workers because of the lack of jobs in the territories. This appears to be partially responsible for the economic dependence of the occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories on Israel, particularly as regards agricultural produce.”
Nurturing Water Apartheid in Palestine
Israel’s water company Mekorot
Factsheet by Stop the Wall
Mekorot is the Israeli public water company which provides 90% of drinking water for Israeli citizens. Water management and supply is controlled by the Israeli state inside the Green Line as well as in the OPT. Mekorot provides infrastructure for water supplies in the settlements and manages water stolen from Palestinians in the occupied territories. In the Nagab/Negev Israel refuses to acknowledge the 45 villages where 160,000 Palestinian Bedouins live and prohibits the construction of water networks to provide drinking water in these villages.
Through the denial to access to water and sanitation, Mekorot collaborates with the state of Israel in the implementation of an institutionalized “water apartheid”, which is a central component of Israel’s policies of ethnic cleansing of Palestinian communities and, considering the grave implications of the denial to access of water, may be involved in the crime of persecution. Mekorot further profits from Israeli policies, such as the settlements and the Wall, which imply a large range of human rights violations.
Mekorot implements a series of Israeli violations of rights included in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
The right to water has been recognized as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living under Article 11 (1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The right to water is also protected under other international treaties and is also essential to the enjoyment of the rights to health, adequate housing and food. The human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses.
Water apartheid made by Mekorot
Managing the Israeli water system:
• Mekorot has been responsible for water rights violations since the 1950s when it built Israel’s national water carrier, which is diverting the Jordan River from the West Bank and Jordan to serve Israeli communities along the coast and in the southern desert.
At the same time it deprives the Palestinian community from the possibility of access to Jordan River water.
• At a special meeting of the Knesset Finance Committee to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of Mekorot, its CEO Shimon Ben-Hamo predicted that “already by the start of 2014 Israel will have enough water to replenish 1.5 million cubic meters in missing reserves.” At the same time Israel and Mekorot are systematically depriving Palestinians – not only in the OPT – from their right to water and sanitation.
Managing the Israeli water theft and apartheid in the OPT:
In 1982 the West Bank water infrastructure controlled by the Israeli army was handed over to Mekorot by a military order.
• Mekorot operates some 42 wells in the West Bank, mainly in the Jordan Valley region, which mostly supply the Israeli settlements.
This allows Mekorot to profit from the settlements and the related human rights violations. Mekorot profits as well from the apartheid Wall and its wells now behind the Apartheid Wall, which bars Palestinians access to their own wells and allows Mekorot exclusive benefit of the underground water resources.
• Mekorot systematically discriminates against Palestinians: Palestinian consumption in the OPT 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.
• In recent years, Palestinians have bought some 50 MCM water per year. This water is extracted by Mekorot from the Mountain Aquifer and Palestinians should be able to extract for themselves if they were allowed to dig and maintain their own wells. Mekorot in this way profits from the overall system of human rights violations installed by the Israeli occupation.
• According to the World Bank, “The cost to the economy of foregone opportunity in irrigated agriculture is significant, with upper bound preliminary estimates that could be as high as 10% of GDP and 110,000 jobs.”
Mekorot’s participation in the systematic denial of access to water by Israeli authorities is therefore [also] seriously violating Palestinian the right to work and development.
Infographic, Not Enough Water in the West Bank? By: Visualizing Palestine in partnership with EWASH, March 2013
Where Mekorot Operates
Argentina: In 2010 “the Governor of the Province of Buenos Aires announced that a tender for the construction of a regional water treatment plant in La Plata would be awarded a consortium, of which Mekorot is a part”. The project is still ongoing despite the fact that “the deal with Mekorot will prove to be costly for Argentina. Water specialists have stated that the underground water resources in Buenos Aries are excellent and cheaper than the Mekorot project, which will drive the water bill of 225 thousands residents in La Plata, Berisso and Ensenada up by 33%.”
Mekorot also has another project in Rio Negro.
Australia: In 2006, both Perth Water and Sydney Water signed research agreements with Mekorot to share technic[al] information. Koor Inter Trade in New South Wales is Mekorot’s representative in Australia.
Brazil: In 2009: “Mekorot Development and Initiations Ltd. has signed co-operation agreements with two Brazilian water companies – Companhia de Saneamento Basico of Sao Paulo State (Sabesp) (NYSE:SBS; Bovespa: SBSP3 and Companhia de Saneamento Ambiental do Distrito Federal (Caespb). Mekorot chairman Eli Ronen signed the agreements during his tour of South America, which is aimed at promoting collaboration and projects with local water companies.” He also said: “These agreements strengthen Mekorot’s global position as a leading water company, especially for arid regions that are dealing with water shortages and poor water quality. The new agreements will strengthen Mekorot’s international activity and will help boost its revenue.”
Cyprus: In 2009 an agreement was signed between the Cyprus government and the Limassol consortium MN –Limassol Water Company (which consists of the Israeli company Mekorot Development and Enterprise Ltd and the Cypriot company Netcom Limited). This was followed by a second agreement to construct another desalination plant in Larnaca so the project now supports two desalination plants and supplies almost half of Cyprus’ drinking water.
Greece: In 2012: “Mekorot Israel National Water Co. is in informal discussions to purchase the Athens and Thessaloniki water and sewage companies…[and] several [other] Israeli firms are competing for the purchase of Greek state assets as the debt-stricken country pushes ahead with its world-record 50-billion-euro divestment program.…Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund CEO Costas Mitropoulos revealed the above to reporters in Tel Aviv [last] Sunday, in between meetings with about 50 different potential Israeli investors.”
India: In 2012: Mekorot Development and Enterprise gained a contract to create a water control system and a metering system in Uttar Pradesh. The company was also reported to be bidding for contracts in West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu.
In 2009 Mekorot was involved in a joint venture with Jain Irrigation Systems.
[Notably, the company has taken up a project in a few select villages in Karnataka to provide 24 x 7 water supply in partnership with French water services major Veolia. ]
Uganda: 2011: “Mekorot National Water Company will develop Uganda’s water infrastructures under an agreement signed with the government-owned National Water and Sewerage Corporation. Mekorot will ultimately build 11 dams and reservoirs to supply water to two million residents.”
United States: 2009 Cleantech, Science and Technology report:
Now Mekorot’s expertise in water management, specifically in desalinating water, is on its way to south California. Ronen confirms that Mekorot has signed a MOU with Water Solutions Technologies (WST) of Fresno, California. The company’s activities in California will extend to water-poor areas such as Fresno in the San Joaquin Valley and other regions like it. […]Ronen says that once government approval and investment are obtained, 10 to 50 small – to medium-sized desalination plants could be set up in California within 18 months. California has recently allocated some $12 billion to improve its water sector and the Israeli company is looking forward to being part of the solution. In addition to desalination technologies and their implementation, Mekorot has expertise in reusing waste water, cloud-seeding and drilling deep wells.
In 2012, Mekorot also announced the opening of its first US office in Ohio.
Research & Development and Investments
In 2004, Mekorot set up The Water Technologies Entrepreneurship Center (WaTech) to create new water technologies for the international market. It has created the following companies which further spread Mekorot’s influence across the globe:
Rotec: Grant from NATO for the development of plants in Israel and Jordan. “According to the terms of the project, three universities – Ben Gurion University in Beersheba, the Hashemite University of Jordan and the University of Colorado in the United States – are to implement a new Israeli reverse osmosis desalination technology at two pilot sites. Developed originally at Ben Gurion University by Dr. Jack Gilron of the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research and Prof. Eli Korin of the department of chemical engineering, a new six-person company called Rotec is commercializing the research and turning it into a product. The universities, as partners, will implement the new reverse osmosis Rotec technology at an existing water plant near Eilat run by Mekorot, Israel’s national water carrier. A second pilot site north of Amman in Al Zareqa could become a new water plant if the pilot goes well.”
Aqwise: According to a 2009 press release, the company is focusing on work in China and India and already operates in the US, Europe, Latin America, Middle East and Asia Pacific.
Desalitech: In 2012, signed contract in the United States to supply irrigation water to a historic golf course in Massachusetts.
Popular campaigns against contracts with Mekorot
The BDS campaign against Mekorot received support from three main political parties, two of the largest trade unions as well as from government and parliament members that were activists in the afore-mentioned campaign. This coalition concluded that an agreement with Mekorot is “an immoral agreement and should be terminated immediately”. http://electronicintifada.net/content/portuguese-water-companys-immoral-collaboration-israel/8526 2009
The United States grants 3 billion dollars in military assistance per year to the State of Israel and thousands more in indirect economic assistance. However, in 2008 the citizens of Los Angeles opposed the fact that the Los Angeles Department for Water and Power (LADWP) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Mekorot. This campaign is still in force today.
An unclear contract and a rise in water rates by up to 33% for unnecessary work has mobilized trade unions and users. This campaign is still underway and so far, Mekorot has still not started the work that was intended to begin in 2011.
[Argentinian campaign against Mekorot, in Spanish]
Where it could be in the future
Mekorot clearly has a global standing and contracts and projects with any countries across the world. Do we really want a company that carries out institutional policies of apartheid and ethnic cleansing to hold such a global position as a leading water company?
Mekorot is clearly looking for markets where governments are privatizing or outsourcing water management at the expense of the human right to water of their own populations in order to finance its water apartheid and ethnic cleansing policies against the Palestinian people.
Part of Mekorot’s purpose lies in building ties with other countries that may not be so connected to Israel.
Currently it has few links with Arab countries, however, in one interview last year, it was stated that Mekorot does not rule out the possibility of working in countries like Qatar or Kuwait, which may suffer from water crises in the future.
Notes and links
There have been many reports over the year about inequitable water distribution between Israelis and Palestinians. Another recent one is from Al Haq, Water for one people only
A counter view, that Israel has done more than honour its agreement in th Oslo accords and the problems lie entirely with the PA can be found in Palestinian lies like water, J Post, July 2013, and
The Israeli-Palestinian water conflict: an Israeli perspective, a refutation of the criticisms by Prof. Haim Gvirtzman, the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.