Thursday, July 04, 2013
Palestinians Choose Ideology Over Sewage Treatment
Untreated Palestinian Sewage Contaminating Israel's Groundwater -Zafrir Rinat
Almost 90% of sewage from Palestinian towns in the West Bank flows into the environment untreated, contaminating the groundwater and 162 km. of streams, according to a report prepared by the Israel Parks and Nature Authority. Israel has tried to cope with the problem by building treatment plants near the Green Line separating Israel from the West Bank and treating the contaminated water once it enters Israel.
A lack of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation has impeded solutions to this problem.
[T]he Palestinian Authority refuses to cooperate to connect Palestinian towns in the northern West Bank to an Israeli sewage line because the line also serves several settlements. It also nixed a proposed treatment plant that would serve both Palestinian towns and the city of Ariel.
Water in the West Bank - David M. Weinberg
Israel has fulfilled all of its obligations about water supply to the West Bank under the Oslo agreements it signed in 1995 with the Palestinian Authority (and in fact has exceeded them), while the Palestinians are wasting tremendous amounts of water while refusing to utilize modern water conservation or sewage treatment methods. Indeed, the PA has violated its water agreements with Israel by drilling over 250 unauthorized wells. Moreover, every Israeli citizen pays more for water in order to subsidize Israel's sale of water to the Palestinians at discount prices. Residents of Tel Aviv and Haifa pay twice as much for their water as residents of Nablus and Ramallah.
Many Palestinian farmers routinely overwater their crops through old-fashioned, wasteful flooding methods. Generally, they don't pay their own water bills - international donors do - so they don't care to conserve. Moreover, at least one-third of the water being pumped out of the ground by the Palestinians is wasted through leakage and mismanagement - by the Palestinian Water Authority's own estimates.
At the same time, 95% of the sewage produced by the Palestinians is not treated at all. Palestinian sewage flows untreated into the streams and valleys of the West Bank, and infiltrates into the Mountain Aquifer, polluting it for Jews and Arabs alike. Some raw Palestinian sewage flows into Israel too.
Only one sewage plant has been built in the West Bank in the past 15 years, despite there being a $500 million international donor fund available for this purpose, due to a Palestinian strategy of noncooperation with Israel.
The writer is director of public affairs at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.