Archive for the ‘Middle East’ Category

Forthcoming lecture on “Scarcity, Conflict, & Security: The Future of Water for Israel & Her Neighbors”

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

For those of you who will be in the Portland, Oregon, area on June 1, I have been asked to give a lecture to the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland on Scarcity, Conflict, & Security: The Future of Water for Israel & Her Neighbors. The lecture will take place at the Benson Hotel, located at 309 SW Broadway in Portland, OR, 12noon to 1:30 pm. There is a $20 admission fee (unfortunately, I have no control over this). You can find a flyer about the program here and register for the program here.

Yes, this lecture was originally scheduled for May 19. However, I was just invited to serve on a UNESCO IHP delegation to a UNEP Conference on “Strengthening Transboundary Freshwater Governance – The Environmental Sustainability Challenge” to be held in Bangkok, Thailand. The Jewish Federation was very gracious about rescheduling my talk.

Israel Responds to World Bank Report on Palestinian Water Sector Development

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Israel recently responded to the World Bank’s Assessment of Restrictions on Palestinian Water Sector Development (PDF) (see the press release here), in which the Bank found that “the joint governance rules and water allocations established under the 1995 Oslo interim agreement … fall short of the needs of the Palestinian people” and that “the imbalance in power, capacity and information between parties, interim governance rules and practices have resulted in systematic and severe constraints on Palestinian development of water resources, water uses, and wastewater management.”

 

In its defense, Israel asserted that it “has fulfilled all its obligations under the water agreement regarding the supply of additional quantities of water to the Palestinians, and has even extensively surpassed the obligatory quantity.” Moreover, Israel alleged that the Palestinians “have significantly violated their commitments under the water agreement” by drilling “over 250 wells without the authorization of the joint water commission.” Israel also claims that the Palestinians have failed to construct sewage treatment plants as required under Article 40 of Annex III to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement of 28 September 1995 and are allowing “the sewage to flow unheeded into streams, polluting both the environment and groundwater.”

 

In a prior post, I noted that Friends of the Earth Middle East had called for the replacement of the Joint Water Commission with a new joint water management structure, describing the current Commission as a “failed mechanism.”

 

In support of its position, Israel’s Water Authority also published The Issue of Water between Israel and the Palestinians (pdf), “a policy paper, prepared at the request of the Water Authority by a group of independent experts.”

 

In the interests of full disclosure, while I have lived in the United States for more than 30 years, I was born and initially raised in Israel.

Friends of the Earth Middle East and World Bank’s report on restrictions on Palestinian water sector

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) – a regional environmental NGO composed of Palestinians, Israelis and Jordanians cooperating to promote sustainable development and sustainable peace in the region – recently issued the statement Water Being Held Hostage to the Conflict.  The statement is a response to the recently released World Bank report Assessment of Restrictions on Palestinian Water Sector Development (PDF) (see the press release here), which “reveals the extent to which water resources and sustainable development are being held hostage to the conflict.”

 

In its statement, FoEME “calls on the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority to replace the failed Joint Water Committee (JWC) with a new joint water management structure.”  It also calls on “the Quartet led by the new Administration of US President Barak Obama to focus on the dire Palestinian water economy as a matter of urgency and help the parties replace the JWC with a new institution that empowers both sides as equal partners.”

 

Referring to its past reports, FoEME asserted that the Joint Water Committee had “failed the interests of both peoples, not providing the water quantities needed to Palestinians and not protecting shared Israeli/Palestinian water resources from large scale pollution.”  Nader Khateeb, Palestinian Director of FoEME, said in the statement that: “It is time to replace the failed mechanism of the Joint Water Committee, established under Oslo, with an institution where Palestinians and Israelis are true partners in both water supply and management responsibilities.”

 

Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director of FoEME (and a friend of mine), stated: “The irony is that due to the water crises, following 5 consecutive years of draught, pollution largely from Palestinian sources poses an ever increasing threat to the declining shared water reserves … A key problem with the JWC is that it has disempowered the Palestinians from being able to take responsibility for water management. The Palestinians receive so little of the shared water, that Israelis must ask themselves, what incentive do Palestinians have to protect shared water from pollution?”

 

The statement notes that “In 2008, FoEME released a Model Water Agreement that called for the replacement of the Joint Water Committee with a new body where equivalent powers and responsibilities would lie with both sides covering all shared water resources.”