Swiss graduate student thesis: 'Palestinian Authority' uses water as a political weaponthe 'Palestinian Authority' uses water as a political weapon against Israel.
A thesis titled ‘The politicization of the Oslo water agreement’ written by Lauro Burkart a Swiss graduate of the Institute of International and Development studies in Geneva gives a more accurate and impartial picture of the topic of the scarcity of water in the Palestinian Authority.
Burkart interviewed many key players in the water conflict, Palestinians and Israelis as well as representatives of NGOs and the donor countries. He also examined many original documents such as the minutes of the meetings of the joint Israeli Palestinian Water Committee (JWC).
Here are some of the most important conclusions in Burkart’s thesis.
The goals of the Oslo 2 water agreement have been reached regarding the quantities of water provided to the Palestinian population (178 mcm/year in 2006). The Oslo water agreement estimated that the needs would eventually be 200 mcm a year. The Joint Water Committee functioned well in the first years following signature of the agreement, but since 2008 cooperation has come to a halt
The facts disseminated by the Palestinians, international organizations and donors about the root causes of the water scarcity in the West Bank are incorrect.
Burkart writes: ‘It is not the Israeli occupation policy but the Palestinian political resistance against joint management and cooperation that is responsible for the relatively slow development of the Palestinian water sector and the deteriorating human rights situation in the Palestinian Territories’ and ‘There is convincing evidence of mismanagement within the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA).’
He cites the pro-Palestinian NGO AMAN who concluded that there is ‘no clear legal separation between the political and executive levels within the Palestinian water institutions. To date there is no real functioning water law. Furthermore the National Water Council is not meeting and not functioning well’.
Although the PWA embarked on an institutional reform process in reaction to international critics such as the World Bank this did not solve the issue of mismanagement within the institution. The head of the Palestinian Hydrology Group called the reform a ‘fundraising mechanism’. The PWA also did not manage to gain control over many municipalities (where Israel has no control) due to the autocratic and undemocratic manner in which they are managed. These power holders did not want to lose control of the water systems since it was one of the main services provided by the municipalities. As a result the water supply is not centralized and illegal drilling is rampant.
The fact that the PA pays for most of the water bills of the Palestinian population gives no incentive for saving and leads to an unreasonable use of water in the domestic sphere as well as in the agricultural sector.Read the whole thing.
I wonder whether Amnesty will have any comments. More here.