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fly bird (26)
Sunday July 12, 2015, 7:24 pm
California is in the midst of one of the worst droughts in the state’s history, prompting Governor Jerry Brown to declare a water “state of emergency.”

Ordinary Californians are bearing the brunt of this disaster. While the governor has imposed restrictions to reduce residential water consumption, businesses in the fields of agriculture and hydraulic fracturing have been largely exempt. Brown’s unwillingness to take on these gargantuan corporate water-wasters lends a sharp political element to an otherwise natural disaster.

There’s another region in the world, however, where access to water isn’t just decided on the whims of politicians dealing with natural disasters. In fact, the very existence of water crises is official state policy for one country: Israel.

Dying of Thirst

Despite its location in a region thought to be perennially dry, the Holy Land actually has ample natural freshwater resources — namely in the form of underwater aquifers and the Jordan River. Palestinians in the West Bank and Israeli settlers live in roughly equal proximity to these resources, which theoretically would allow for equal consumption.

Israeli water policy, however, has made this prospect virtually impossible. In fact, there’s a shocking disparity.

A report from the United Nations found that the average Israeli settler consumes 300 liters of water per day — a figure surpassing even the average Californian’s 290. But thanks to Israeli military action and legal restrictions on access, the average Palestinian in the occupied West Bank only gets about 70. And for the tens of thousands of Palestinians who live off the water grid altogether, daily consumption hovers at around 30. That’s just 10 percent of the Israeli figure.

Both figures are well below the minimum 100 liters per day recommended by the World Health Organization. While Israelis are watering their lawns and swimming in Olympic-sized pools, Palestinians a few kilometers away are literally dying of thirst.

Weaponizing Water

This inequality has deep roots — and it’s no accident.

Almost immediately after the creation of Israel in 1948, the fledgling country took comprehensive action to secure control of the region’s water. These policies were ramped up again following the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, when Israel first assumed control of the Palestinian territories.

That year, the Israeli armed forces issued Military Order 92 — an initiative that put Palestinian water resources under Israel’s military jurisdiction. This was shortly followed by Military Order 158, which required Palestinians to obtain permits from the military in order to build new water infrastructure. If they built new wells, springs, or even rain-collecting containers without Israeli permission, soldiers would confiscate or destroy them, often without prior notification.

These orders, among others, remain on the books to this day. They form the basis for the administration of water access for nearly 4.4 million Palestinians. Although control of water resources is now officially the domain of Mekorot, Israel’s national water company, Israeli forces routinely perform operations with the explicit intent of destroying Palestinian water infrastructure.

A Veneer of Legality

Decades of peace negotiations have done little to grant Palestinians sovereign control over their resources.

Even after the Oslo Accords of the early 1990s, which were supposed to grant the Palestinians some semblance of political agency in the territories, water access remains limited. In fact, the accords simply codified the unfair distribution of water in the region, imbuing these flagrantly harmful practices with a veneer of legality.

Even in Palestinian-administered portions of the West Bank, Israeli troops regularly demolish rain cisterns, pipelines, and agricultural water structures. The Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq has meticulously documented a number of these instances, compiling them in a report examining the extent of the hardship these operations cause to West Bank residents.

One case study detailed the destruction of a farmer’s well in a village east of Jenin. His well, along with five others in the area, was destroyed by the military under the pretext that it had been built without proper authorization by Israel — despite the fact that an Israeli permit is supposedly not needed in the Palestinian-administered Area B of the West Bank, where these villages are located.

These operations showcase the coordination between civil and military channels to restrict Palestinian access to water, a system that’s been startlingly effective in its goal.

Even when Palestinians attempt to go through the “proper” Israeli channels, they’re met with innumerable obstacles. Two regulatory organizations — the Joint Water Commission (JWC) and the Israeli Civil Administration — have created a bureaucratic nightmare for West Bank residents attempting to acquire permits to either build new instillations or repair the region’s floundering infrastructure. Both organizations are capable of vetoing petitions without explanation, creating a system that prevents Palestinians from maintaining consistent and comprehensive water access.

Meanwhile, access is severely curtailed even where Palestinians have permission to pump water. The most striking inequality lies in the division of the Mountain Aquifer, the only underground aquifer that Palestinians in the West Bank are allowed to access. Despite being the sole source for the territory, Palestinian extraction is limited to 20 percent of the aquifer’s total capacity. Israel, on the other hand, has access to 80 percent of the aquifer’s water — a stunningly unequal distribution, considering it also has unfettered access to the region’s remaining aquifers and the Jordan River.

A Worsening Crisis

California’s drought has captivated U.S. audiences, sparking concern and calls to action to prevent ecological disaster in the face of natural causes. On the subject of Israel’s deliberate drought, however, media attention has been virtually nonexistent.

This crisis has become the norm for Palestinians for decades now, though its severity continues to increase as water becomes more scarce. The UN estimates that due to Israel’s siege, the Gaza Strip will be uninhabitable by the year 2020. Though the West Bank is relatively well-off in comparison, the water crisis there has resulted in severe economic hardship for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, a situation that’s not conducive to long-term stability in the region.

This water disparity is emblematic of the power disparity between Israel and Palestine — a gulf that seems wholly unrecognized during regional peace talks. In order to have a diplomatic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian question, both parties must enter negotiations on an equal playing field. This is only possible once Israel’s occupation in the West Bank is dismantled, and Palestinians are given access to the water resources they need in order to live their lives with dignity.

Laith Shakir is a fellow of the Next Leaders program at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC.

This article was originally published by Foreign Policy in Focus.
 

Kathleen M (210)
Sunday July 12, 2015, 7:43 pm
The Israeli government and its' thuggish soldiers should be infested with armies of multi-legged insects and even more fleas. Thanks for sharing, Jess.
 

fly bird (26)
Sunday July 12, 2015, 7:47 pm
Your wish is my command, LOL ... if only!

I share the same sentiment, Kathleen.


 

Past Member (0)
Sunday July 12, 2015, 9:03 pm
Just another Arab propaganda lie, spreaded by Jess.

Water distribution between Jordan, Egypt, Israel and PA is well regulated.

If Arabs in Gaza were not stealing water from each other by drilling unauthorized wells, there would be no water crisis in Gaza.

 

fly bird (26)
Monday July 13, 2015, 2:05 am
I would be careful, if I were you, not to smear people and spread false accusations.

Despite efforts to derail and switch the topic, the subject matter, here, is Israel's theft of Palestinian resources, used as a tactic to further dehumanize and dispossess Palestinians, cutting off their natural resources, needed for survival.

Water is a human right.
Depriving the Palestinian people of water, is a heinous act of psychological and physical warfare, as well as theft of their water rights.
 

Carol R (11)
Monday July 13, 2015, 6:40 am
And we're going to believe someone who creates false profiles when suspended in order to troll various peoples posts, especially without links to verify their claims. You are desperate and pathetic barb.

Excellent article: When Occupation Becomes Apartheid by Gil McGuire

About Gil Maguire

Gil Maguire is a retired civil rights attorney and writer of both fiction and non-fiction. He lives in Oxnard. His blog, Irish Moses, is named in honor of his father, Robert F. Maguire, who was awarded the Medal of Valor by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in 2004 for “his heroic efforts that helped to rescue tens of thousands of Jews” during 1948-49 after the founding of the State of Israel.

http://mondoweiss.net/2015/04/occupation-becomes-apartheid?utm_source=Mondoweiss+List&utm_campaign=

The Law of Military Occupation

Israel’s military occupation and control of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza has gone on almost half a century, since it conquered those territories during the 1967 Six Day War. While many fear Israel will become an apartheid state unless it relinquishes all or most of these occupied territories, the evidence is overwhelming that Israel created an apartheid system and became an apartheid state at the end of the 1967 war, 48 years ago.

THE LAW OF MILITARY OCCUPATION

Under international law and Section III of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, a conquering army becomes an occupying power once military operations have ceased. The occupying power has the duty to restore public order and safety and protect the local civilian population. Under Article 49, it cannot seize or annex any part of the territory occupied or forcibly deport civilians, nor can it permanently transfer its own citizens into the occupied territory. It must also relinquish control of the occupied territory and return it to civilian authority and control as soon as reasonably possible once order is restored.

The US conducted one of the most difficult military occupations in history at the end of World War II after it had defeated the combined Axis Powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan. Despite the bitterness of the conflict, the US restored public order and safety and took less than eight years to rebuild the infrastructure and civilian democratic institutions of all three countries and return each to sovereign democratic rule. The US didn’t seize or annex the sovereign territory of these three countries, it didn’t deport civilians, nor did it transfer portions of its own civilian population into the three countries it occupied. The US post-World War II occupations are models of how military occupations should be conducted, and today, Germany, Italy, and Japan, all former bitter enemies of the US, are healthy, prosperous democracies, and strong allies.

The Unlawful Deportations and Annexations

By sharp contrast, Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza has defied international law almost from the beginning. Some 300,000 Palestinians fled or were forced to leave their homes during and after the 1967 fighting and then were deported from the territories occupied by Israel, as were another 130,000 from the captured Golan Heights.

Israel also prevented Palestinian refugees from lawfully returning to their homes and lands by denying them entry at the borders and by using force against those who surreptitiously attempted to return. It destroyed dozens of Arab towns and villages to prevent their Arab inhabitants from returning. It also seized and annexed Palestinian lands including East Jerusalem and about 27 square miles of West Bank land which became Greater Jerusalem, the so-called eternal capital of Israel. Later it annexed the Golan Heights. Both annexations have been declared illegal under international law.

Diplomacy by Prevarication, Foreign Policy by Deception

In his meticulously researched study of the two years following the 1967 Six Day War, The Bride and the Dowry: Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinians in the Aftermath of the June 1967 War (2012, Yale University Press), author Avi Raz details how Israel successfully forced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to leave the West Bank and then conducted “a diplomacy of prevarication” aimed at deceiving the US and its allies into believing it was willing to allow the refugees to return and would give back the territories it had captured during the war. Raz also shows how Israel was approached by both the Jordanian government and by Palestinian leaders who were eager, after the debacle of the 1967 Six Day War, to negotiate a settlement with the Israelis. Israel used excruciatingly-protracted talks with both sides to convince the UN and the US that it was interested in and working toward a negotiated settlement while instead it was doing everything possible to delay and avoid any commitment to one.

This diplomatic strategy was aptly described by Israel’s foreign minister, Abba Eban, as tahksisanut or unstraightforwardness. Raz concludes Israel was never willing to trade captured land for peace and used a “foreign policy of deception” to hide that fact from its allies, mainly the US, which it feared would force it to return the captured lands, and refuse to sell it the sophisticated aircraft and weaponry it craved. Raz argues that Israel’s entire approach to settlement negotiations from 1967 through the Oslo Accord of 1993 to the present day followed Eban’s strategy of diplomatic tahksisanut. The goal has always been to delay and avoid an agreement until the number of illegal settlements and settlers in the occupied territories created facts on the ground that would make the permanency of Greater Israel a fait accompli. The collapse and failure of Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2013-14 peace talks reflects the continuing success of tahksisanut, of Israeli duplicity.

The Illegal Settlements

Raz quotes then Israeli prime minister, Levi Eshkol, as saying Israel “wanted the dowry” (the land of the occupied territories) “but not the bride” (the Palestinians living on that land). To solve that dilemma, plans were made and implemented almost immediately after the war to keep the occupied territories as an integral part of Greater Israel or Eretz Yisrael, and create all-Jewish settlements in the occupied areas so as to establish facts on the ground that would make the creation of a separate Palestinian state difficult if not impossible. In September of 1967, a secret legal memo commissioned by Israel’s prime minister made it clear that transferring Israeli Jewish citizens onto settlements in the occupied territories would be a direct violation of international law, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Despite this warning, Israel began the process of transferring Jewish civilians into settlements, establishing 12 in 1967, followed by ever-increasing numbers in the next five decades. Today, 48 years later, over 10 percent of Israel’s Jewish population, well over 600,000 Israeli Jews, live in hundreds of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, making the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state virtually impossible, as was the plan from the very beginning.

US Secretary of State Dean Rusk, in a March 1968 memo to the US embassy in Israel, told the US ambassador to warn the Israeli government that the transfer of its civilians into the occupied territories violated Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. He instructed the ambassador to tell the Israeli government in the strongest possible terms of US opposition to any Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. He also said that creation of Jewish colonies created the impression that Israel had no intention of reaching a settlement and withdrawing from the occupied territories. Half a century later, Rusk’s memo has proved prophetic.

The evidence is clear that Israel knew its obligations as an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention but decided to ignore them. Its illegal actions of forcing civilians out of the occupied territories, refusing to allow them to return, annexing portions of occupied lands for itself, and transferring its own civilians into the occupied lands, all while keeping the Palestinians under strict military rule, demonstrate an intent to keep the occupied territories for itself. Its negotiation strategy of tahksisanut is further evidence of that intention.

If Israel had no intention of withdrawing from the occupied territories, and deliberately violated most if not all of the legal precepts regarding military occupation, its behavior was and remains illegal under international law and constitutes grave violations of the laws of war, or war crimes. Even President Obama’s White House seems to have finally acknowledged this hard fact. On March 23, at the J Street annual conference, White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough said,

“Israel cannot maintain military control of another people indefinitely…

“An occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end, and the Palestinian people must have the right to live in and govern themselves in their own sovereign state…

“Palestinian children deserve the same right to be free in their own land as Israeli children in their land.”

The Law and Practice of Apartheid

Can Israel’s 48 year illegal military occupation be described as apartheid? The term was originally used to describe a system of racial segregation in South Africa. Today, the crime of apartheid, according to the UN Apartheid Convention, applies to acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial, ethnic, or religious group, over another by acts of systematic oppression. Examples include: denying the one group the right to life and liberty and subjecting members of that group to arbitrary arrest and expropriation of property; depriving the group of the right to leave and return to their country, or of freedom of movement and residence; the creation of separate areas for the members of different racial groups; the prohibition of mixed marriages, etc.

Each of these examples applies to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories, and, to a lesser extent, to the 20 percent of Israeli citizens who are non-Jews. Some 50 laws in Israel discriminate against non-Jewish Israeli citizens, forcing them to live in impoverished Arab communities surrounded by prosperous all-Jewish communities who receive the vast majority of public resources. Moreover, Israel’s Arab population lived under strict martial law the first 18 years of Israel’s existence, until 1966, even though Israeli Arabs became nominal citizens of Israel in 1952. Today, there remain about 274,000 Israeli Arab citizens who are internally displaced refugees of the 1948 war who fled or were forced to leave their homes and villages and were not allowed to return to reclaim their homes, land, and property after the end of the war even though they are lawful residents and citizens of Israel.

In the occupied West Bank, conditions are far worse. Palestinians are forced to live in enclaves (the so-called Area A) surrounded by Israeli military zones (Area B). Area C, about 61 percent of the West Bank, contains over 300,000 Jewish settlers living in all-Jewish settlements under complete Israeli control. This area completely surrounds Areas A and B. Palestinians are forced to live in dozens of separate enclaves, their movement heavily restricted. Arbitrary arrest and detention of adults and even young children is commonplace, due process a distant dream.

Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is confiscated and used to build all-Jewish Israeli settlements protected by Israeli Army units, and connected by access roads that are restricted to use by Jews only. Israeli Jews living in the occupied territories have full civil rights including the right to vote while their Palestinian Arab neighbors live under Israeli military law, have no civil rights, and cannot vote in Israel’s national elections. All of these discriminatory restrictions on the Palestinian Arab population certainly seem to meet the definition of apartheid.

Stephen Robert, a Jewish-American investment banker, and long-time Israel supporter, as well as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a former chancellor of Brown University, described the situation in the occupied territories as apartheid after fact-finding visits to the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2011. In a long and detailed article entitled “Apartheid on Steroids”, he concluded,

“How can Jews, who have been persecuted for centuries, tolerate this inhumanity? Where is their moral compass? How can this situation be acceptable to Judaism’s spiritual and political leaders? I don’t have that answer; except to say that Israel’s biggest enemy has become itself.”

That was four years ago. David Shulman, an Israeli Jew and distinguished professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem described similar conditions in his March 21 post-Israeli election recap, article:

“Israel has, in effect, knowingly moved further toward a full-fledged apartheid system. Those who don’t like the word can suggest another one for what I see each week in the territories and more and more inside the Green Line.” [Emphasis added].

Shulman sees apartheid in the occupied territories and more and more evidence of it even within Israel itself. Israeli journalist and author, Amira Hass, sees much the same,

“When you look at the geography of Palestinians in Israel, it’s the same geography, they are encircled in enclaves. They are deprived of their land. Most of their land has been taken by Jews to settle, even though they are Israeli citizens… They are all packed and cramped in houses without spaces to breathe, without agricultural lands…The political geography of the Israeli state is very similar on both sides of the Green Line.”

The treatment of Palestinian Arabs by Israeli Jews is also strikingly similar to the treatment of non-whites by South Africa’s all-white regime under apartheid. Moreover, all the conditions for apartheid, the deportations, the annexations, the creation of Jewish settlements, the isolation of Palestinians under military law, were put in place by the Israeli government in 1967. Since both the intent and the fact of apartheid were in place in 1967, and since conditions have only gotten worse, it’s become impossible to call Israel’s near-half century military occupation of the Palestinian people on Palestinian lands in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza anything but apartheid.

The only remaining question is why we as Americans continue to support a country whose oppression of its Arab population is so contrary to our own national values, a country that openly practices apartheid. Israel’s conduct toward the Palestinian people makes a mockery of its claim to be “the only democracy in the Middle East”, as does its claim that Israel and the US share common values.

It’s high time that we, as Americans, face up to the fact that supporting Israel is supporting apartheid, and that our military, economic, and diplomatic support of that country has fostered and abetted nearly half a century of continuing oppression of 4.5 million Palestinians. It’s also high time we put a stop to it by telling our representatives in Congress that while we as Americans support the state of Israel, we will no longer provide military, economic, and diplomatic support for Israeli apartheid.

Thanks Jess....


 

Angelika R (143)
Monday July 13, 2015, 3:54 pm
Don't waste any time doing exactly what that last paragraph suggests! Every day! The time is NOW, especially considering the new demand-which will of course be granted- of that RAISE from $ 3,1 or so bn to $4-4,5 bn in coming years!
The longer this status quo lasts, the more justification will there be for phrases like "Israel and the US share common values" because you will have adopted Israel's "values" !
 

John De Avalon (36)
Monday July 13, 2015, 4:38 pm
It was the Arabs who started this back in 1964 with the Headwater Diversion Plan, when they planned to divert 2 of the 3 sources of the Jordan River which would have reduced Israel's water supply.
 

Past Member (0)
Tuesday July 14, 2015, 5:59 am
Water is essence of life, not to take life
 

Roger G (148)
Tuesday July 14, 2015, 1:29 pm
noted, thanks
 

Freya H (345)
Tuesday July 14, 2015, 7:08 pm
Israel has some really bad karma coming its way.
 
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