Sunday, 23 February 2014

Israel’s water apartheid embraced by Italy

Israel’s policy of “water apartheid” made a rare appearance in the mainstream media over the past few weeks.

Martin Schulz, the European Parliament’s president, drew a furious response from some Israeli politicians when he spoke during an address to the Israeli parliament, the Knesset of how Israeli settlers receive far more water than indigenous Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

Although Schulz cited figures mentioned to him by young people in Ramallah that were not accurate, the underlying problem is a very real one. A report published by the United Nations Human Rights Council last year stated that the average Israeli settler consumes as much as 400 liters per day, whereas a Palestinian in the West Bank has to make do with 73 liters and — in the case of many Bedouins — just 10 liters.

Despite that evidence, the Italian authorities have been happy to embrace Mekorot, the Israeli firm which diverts most of the water extracted from Palestinian springs to Israeli settlements.

Amnesty International has documented how Palestinians face severe rationing of water, particularly during the summer months, in order to ensure that Israeli settlers can still enjoy their swimming pools and floral displays (“Troubled Waters,” 27 October 2009 [PDF]).

At the Italy-Israel summit in Rome during December 2013, a cooperation agreement was signed between Mekorot and Acea, Italy’s largest water utility. Both firms undertook to examine how “cutting-edge technologies” for water management could be exchanged.

Palestine solidarity and public water campaigners have joined forces to oppose the agreement. more


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