PWA chief says world must act on Israel’s water apartheid 19Jan12 January 19, 2012

Ma’an News Agency  -  18 January 2012

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The head of the Palestinian Water Authority on Tuesday said the international community must act on Israel’s “apartheid” water policy in the West Bank.

In January, the French parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee issued a report which found that Israel’s water policy constituted “a weapon serving the new apartheid.” It noted that Jewish settlers used more than five times as much water as Palestinians and were given priority during droughts.

PWA chief Shaddad Attili said the World Bank, the UN and other international organizations had issued similar reports on Israel’s denial of Palestinian water rights.

Growing awareness must be translated into international pressure on Israel to end its water apartheid, Attili said in a statement.

“Israel controls all the water resources in the occupied West Bank. It exploits these resources for near exclusive Israeli use, allocating a mere fraction of the available water supply to Palestinians. While Israelis enjoy some of the highest water consumption rates in the world, Palestinians continue to face a series of crippling water shortages artificially engineered by Israel as a matter of policy,” Attili said.

The official added that Israel used water to target vulnerable Palestinian communities.

“This includes its systematic demolition of Palestinian rainwater harvesting cisterns and wells used as a means to forcibly displace Palestinian communities who depend on them for their basic water needs. The number of demolitions continues to increase, with at least 25 Palestinian wells and 32 Palestinian cisterns demolished in 2011 alone.”

Negotiations to resolve the allocation of water have failed, he said, adding that the Joint Water Committee established in the Oslo Accords effectively gave Israel veto power over all Palestinian water projects.

Water is one of the six final-status issues to be resolved in a peace agreement, alongside settlements, refugees, borders, security and Jerusalem.

“Without water, and without ensuring Palestinian water rights, there can be no viable or sovereign Palestinian state,” Attili warned.

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