World Bank finds Israel’s water policy hard to swallow - The National Newspaper
* Last Updated: April 28. 2009 6:58PM UAE / April 28. 2009 2:58PM GMT
As a former, and by many accounts successful, finance minister, Benjamin Netanyahu presumably knows his way around economics. So when the Israeli prime minister says he will work to provide the Palestinians with economic, if not political, independence, might that not suggest his hard-line government understands that a prosperous Palestine would be an important first step towards a more stable Middle East?
Not according to the World Bank, which last week issued the latest in a series of reports about how the Israeli government is systematically pre-empting the evolution of a viable Palestinian economy. The 154-page “Assessment of Restrictions on Palestinian Water Sector Development” is written with a blandness suited to the banality of this particular Israeli outrage. The report offers a detailed look at how Israel deprives the West Bank and Gaza of the most basic commodity for human survival, a deficit that consumes a growing share of Palestinian GDP.
The report is another indictment, as if one were needed, of the now-defunct Oslo Accords. Just as Oslo lacked adequate mechanisms to enforce Israeli pledges to sharply reduce its occupation of Palestinian land, so too has Israel been allowed to abrogate its commitment to revise interim agreements relating to water systems in the Arab territories it controls.
Instead, according to the World Bank report, Israel has aggrandised a growing share of available water supplies while intensifying Palestinian reliance on Mekorot, the Jewish state’s national water carrier. The report states that Israel, without the approval of the Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee (JWC) – a legacy of the Oslo process – draws more than 50 per cent from the aquifers that support both the West Bank and Israel beyond what it is authorised under the accords. Needless to say, Palestinian protests of such violations are routinely ignored, according to the report.