Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Truth Behind the Palestinian Water Libels

By Prof. Haim Gvirtzman February 24, 2014
For the full article go to

3BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 238

A significant public debate has been sparked by the assertion of European Parliament President Martin Schulz that the amount of water available to the average Israeli unfairly overwhelms the amount of water available to the average Palestinian. The main issue that should be discussed – and has not been sufficiently analyzed – is: What are the causes of Palestinian water supply problems?
The discussion must be informed by the following basic facts:
1. The Oslo agreements grant the Palestinians the right to draw 70 million cubic meters from the Eastern Mountain Aquifer (ground water reservoir). Yet this water resource is not currently being capitalized on by the Palestinians; the waters spill untapped underground into the Dead Sea. As per the Israeli-Palestinian agreement, some 40 sites were identified for drilling into this aquifer in the eastern Hebron hills region, and permits were granted to the Palestinians by the Israel-PA Joint Water Committee. Nevertheless, over the past 20 years, the Palestinians have drilled at just one-third of these sites, despite the fact that the international community has offered to finance the drilling of all sites.

2. The Palestinians do not bother fixing water leaks in city pipes. Up to 33 percent of water in Palestinian cities is wasted through leakage. Upkeep on the Palestinians’ urban water infrastructure has been completely neglected. By comparison, leakage from Israeli municipal water pipes amount to only 10 percent of water usage.
3. The Palestinians refuse to build water treatment plants, despite their obligation to do so under the Oslo agreement. Sewage flows out of Palestinian towns and villages directly into local streams, thereby polluting the environments and the aquifer and causing the spread of disease. Despite the fact that donor countries are willing to fully fund the building of treatment plants, the Palestinians have managed to avoid their obligations to build such facilities.
4. The Palestinians absolutely refuse to irrigate their agricultural fields with treated sewage effluents. By comparison, more than half the agricultural fields in Israel are irrigated with treated waste water. Irrigating Palestinian agricultural fields with recycled water instead of fresh water would free up large amounts of water for home usage. This would greatly reduce the water shortage in many places.
5. Some Palestinian farmers irrigate their fields by flooding, rather than with drip irrigation technology. Drip irrigation, as practiced in Israel, brings water directly to the root of each plant, thereby reducing water consumption by more than 50 percent. Flooding fields causes huge water evaporation and leads to great waste.
6. The international community has offered to build a desalination plant for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians have refused this gift. A desalination plant could completely solve the Gaza Strip’s water shortages. The Palestinians refuse to build this plant because they claim they have the right to access the fresh groundwater reservoir in Judea and Samaria, and they are prepared to suffer until they realize this dream. In the meanwhile, Gaza residents suffer from severe shortages of water.
These basic, undeniable facts are extremely important because they have wide-ranging consequences.
Today, the Palestinians consume some 200 million cubic meters of water per annum in Judea and Samaria. The Palestinians could easily raise that amount by at least 50 percent, without any additional assistance or allocation from the State of Israel. This would require several simple actions:
1)    To begin drilling the Eastern Mountain Aquifer, at the sites already approved for drilling, they very quickly would secure an additional 50 million cubic meters of water per year.

2)    to reduce urban water waste from 33 percent to 20 percent by fixing the main leaks in their urban water pipes would give additional10 million cubic meters of water per annum.

3)    to collect and treat their urban waste water, would gain at least 30 million cubic meters of water a year. This would free up 30 million cubic meters (per annum) of fresh water

4)    to adopt drip irrigation technology, they would save 10 million cubic meters a year.

5)    In the Gaza Strip, too, the Palestinians could easily double the amount of water available, without additional assistance from the State of Israel. If the Palestinians agreed to build a desalination plant on the Gaza coast (funded entirely by the international community), they would increase the amount of water available by 60 to 100 million cubic meters a year.

6)    Unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority’s deleterious policies – as evidenced in the facts listed above – are a function of the Palestinian water war against Israel. There is no real Palestinian desire to solve water problems
Illegal drilling of wells: As of 2010, the Palestinians had drilled about 250 unauthorized wells into the Western and Northern Aquifers, in violation of the Oslo agreements. Since 2010 the number of unauthorized wells being dug has continued to rise at an alarming pace.
The Palestinians also steal water by pirate tapping into pipes belonging to Mekorot, Israel’s national water company. As a result, Mekorot’s ability to supply water to Israelis and Palestinians alike has been compromised. The stolen water is used mainly for agriculture, not for home usage.
Which brings us to another dirty little secret about the Palestinians: most West Bank and Gaza residents and businesses do not pay the PA for the water they use, in either their homes or fields. There are simply no water meters on pumping wells and no water meters at the entry to most homes, so it is impossible for the PA to measure the amount of money owed by individual consumers. This, of course, leads to widespread water waste. People who don’t pay for their water usage have no motivation to conserve.
Beyond the conclusion reached above, it is worthwhile to consider a broader perspective on the water situation in the Middle East. The Palestinians live in the shadow of the State of Israel, a world superpower in terms of water technologies. Consequently, the Palestinians enjoy a relative Garden of Eden. Only in Israel, in the West Bank, and in Gulf States does sufficient, safe, drinkable tap water exist in 96 percent of households. Residents in almost every other country in the region suffer from terrible water shortages.

In the future, if and when peace is achieved, and cooperation is truly desired by the Palestinians – which they do not currently seek – the State of Israel will be ready and able to assist its neighbors in overcoming their water shortages.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

What the actress could teach John Kerry about courage and clarity.

By Bret Stephens (only available to members)
Feb. 10, 2014

Last month the Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic blew himself up as he tried to open an old booby-trapped embassy safe. When police arrived on the scene, they discovered a cache of unregistered weapons in violation of international law. Surprise.

Then the real shocker: After prevaricating for a couple of weeks, the Palestinian government apologized to the Czechs and promised, according to news accounts, "to take measures to prevent such incidents in the future."

As far as I know, this is only the second time the Palestinians have officially apologized for anything, ever. The first time, in 1999, Yasser Arafat's wife, Suha, accused Israel of poisoning Palestinian children. Hillary Clinton was there. Palestinian officialdom mumbled its regrets.

In other words, no apology for the 1972 massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. No apology for the 1973 murder of Cleo Noel, the U.S. ambassador to Sudan, and his deputy, George Moore. No apology for the 1974 massacre of 25 Israelis, including 22 schoolchildren, in Ma'alot. No apology for the 1978 Coastal Road massacre, where 38 Israelis, including 13 children, were killed.

And so on and on—straight to the present. In December, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas posthumously bestowed the "Star of Honor" on Abu Jihad, the mastermind of the Coastal Road attack, as "the model of a true fighter and devoted leader." Dalal Mughrabi, the Palestinian woman who led the attack itself, had a square named after her in 2011. In August, Mr. Abbas gave a hero's welcome to Palestinian murderers released from Israeli jails as a goodwill gesture. And Yasser Arafat, who personally ordered the killing of Noel and Moore, is the Palestinian patron saint.

I mention all this as background to two related recent debates. Late last month Scarlett Johansson resigned her role as an Oxfam "Global Ambassador" after the antipoverty group condemned the actress for becoming a pitchwoman for the Israeli company SodaStream. Oxfam wants to boycott Israeli goods made—as SodaStream's are—inside the West Bank; Ms. Johansson disagrees, citing "a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions [BDS] movement."

The second debate followed rambling comments on the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations from John Kerry at this month's Munich Security Conference. Israel, he warned, faced a parade of unpleasant events if talks failed. "For Israel there's an increasing delegitimization campaign that's been building up," he said. "People are very sensitive to it. There are talks of boycotts and other kinds of things."

So here is the secretary of state talking about the effort to boycott Israel not as an affront to the United States and an outrage to decency but as a tide he is powerless to stop and that anyway should get Israel to change its stiff-necked ways. A Secretary of State Johansson would have shown more courage and presence of mind than that.

But Mr. Kerry's failure goes deeper. How is it that Mr. Abbas's glorification of terrorists, living and dead, earns no rebuke from Mr. Kerry, nor apparently any doubts about the sincerity of Palestinian intentions? Why is it that only Israel faces the prospect of a boycott? When was the last time the U.S., much less the Europeans, threatened to impose penalties on Palestinians for diplomatic or moral misbehavior?

In 2011 the Palestinians defied the U.S. by making a bid for statehood at the U.N.; then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice warned there would be "adverse negative consequences" for the Palestinians. Of course there were none, and the administration fought behind the scenes to make sure there wouldn't be any. Type the words "Kerry condemns Abbas" or "Kerry condemns Palestinians" into a Web search and you'll get that rare Google event: "No results found."

No wonder one Israeli government minister after another has taken to calling the secretary "insufferable," "messianic" and "obsessive"—and that's just what they say in public. The State Department has reacted indignantly to these gibes, but this is coming from the administration that likes to speak of the virtues of candor between friends. Its idea of candor is all one-way and all one-sided.

This is a bad basis for peace. If one expects nothing of Palestinians then they will be forgiven for everything. If one expects everything of Israel then it will be forgiven for nothing, putting the country to a perpetual moral test it will always somehow fail and that can only energize the boycott enthusiasts. It all but goes without saying that the ultimate objective of the BDS movement isn't to "end the occupation" but to end the Jewish state. Anyone who joins that movement, or flirts with it, is furthering the objective, wittingly or not. One useful function of an American diplomat is to warn a group like Oxfam that it is playing with moral fire.

Instead, the job was left to Ms. Johansson. How wonderfully commendable. "One gorgeous actress with courage makes a majority," said Andrew Jackson—or something like that. We could do worse with such a person at State.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Abbas needs the zero option

By Paul Charney, January 30, 2014 The Jewish Chronicle ONLINE

In this country, you often hear talk about how terrible celebrity culture is. Our aspirational role models include thuggish professional ball-kickers, scantily-clad twerking girls, and people who appear to be famous just for being famous. So it’s instructive to look at what goes on in other parts of the world.

For example, last October Israel released another batch of long-term prisoners as a goodwill gesture to keep the Palestinian Authority at the negotiating table. All were guilty of murdering Israelis. Soldiers or civilians; men or women; adults or children; irrespective of who they had killed, these prisoners were greeted by Mahmoud Abbas himself and welcomed home as heroes.

Nor was this merely symbolic; the PA put its money where its mouth was, lavishing each former captive with cash and a suitably high-ranking civil service position — with a correspondingly enviable salary. Lest the PA get bogged down in the potentially icky quagmire of calculating which killer had provided the best service for his people, it simply pegged the rewards to how long each one had served in jail.

Hence Issa Abd Rabbo got an astounding $110,000 payout, and also (because it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single terrorist in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife) the offer to have any future wedding costs covered.

It’s not their money that goes to terrorists

And what exactly had Mr Rabbo done to gain the stature of Palestine’s most eligible bachelor?

He had kidnapped two Israeli student hitch-hikers, tied and gagged them at gunpoint, and then murdered them.

If this seems like an absolutely appalling way for a government – any government – to behave, then I’m afraid it actually gets worse. Because while it scarcely seems as if it can be true that the supposedly moderate regime of Mahmoud Abbas would throw money at terrorists like this, it isn’t. They aren’t really throwing their money at terrorists; they’re throwing ours.
The only way that Abbas has coffers deep enough for this kind of grotesque generosity is due to the sheer volume of international funding he receives. For example, UK taxpayers alone give £33 million direct to the PA, while also covering 15 per cent of the EU’s £133m aid. Per head, Palestinians are the number one recipient of aid in the world, presumably under the admirable belief that it would help build the foundations for peace.

Tragically, however, the opposite is true. As the award-winning American journalist Edwin Black has documented in Financing the Flames, his recently published exposé of how international aid harms the Israeli-Palestinian process, all this money has enabled the PA to enforce a long-standing policy, of immediately and automatically putting any Palestinian convicted of killing any Israeli, on the government payroll. According to Black’s research, four to six per cent of the PA’s budget is spent doling out salaries to incarcerated murderers in this way.

You might be aware of the ad hoc “Price Tag” attacks in the West Bank by a minority of Israelis in response to anti-settlement actions. These have been roundly (and rightfully) condemned by all parts of the Israeli political spectrum. But what if these protests were in fact government policy? What if documents emerged, that proved a significant chunk of Netanyahu’s budget was allocated every year to supporting a campaign of weaponised, politicised vandalism? Who then could seriously believe Jerusalem’s claims to be striving for peace?

Equally, it is incumbent on us to explain how this abuse of funding is both symptom and cause of the PA’s unseriousness about reaching a historic accord with Israel. You don’t have to be an economist to realise that the amount a government spends on underwriting murder should not be between four and six per cent of its budget. It should be between zero and zero per cent.

Paul Charney is chairman of the Zionist Federation

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Three cheers for Scarlett Johansson's stand

By Brendan O'Neill  January 30th, 2014

As if her otherworldly beauty and screen presence were not enough, here is another reason to love Scarlett Johansson: Oxfam, of which she was an ambassador, hinted that she should cut her ties with SodaStream on the basis that it maintains factories in Israeli settlements and she responded by cutting her ties with Oxfam!

What’s not to love about this story? A worthy charity shakes its big head in disapproval at a celeb who has dared to do things for a company that works in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, no doubt expecting the celeb to freak out, issue a tear-drenched apology and promise never again to rub shoulders, or anything else, with these evil Israelis. But instead the celeb basically tells the worthy charity to get stuffed and says she will carry on working with and promoting the Israeli company.

Ever since she was signed up as the face of SodaStream, Ms Johansson has had a tsunami of flak from campaigners who think that buying Israeli stuff, working with Israeli academics or attending Israeli theatre performances is the very worst thing a human being could ever do. You know the kind: they stand outside Marks & Spencer’s on Oxford Street warning all whom enter that this evil shop sells blood-stained products (ie, stuff made in Israel), and they screech and wail, these philistines for Palestine, when an Israeli violinist starts playing at the Proms. I mean, can you imagine it – a musician from Israel inside the Royal Albert Hall? *Shudder*.

And so it was that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which calls for decent-minded Westerners to refuse to contaminate their body, souls or minds with any grub or books from Israel, called on Oxfam to “immediately sever ties” with Ms Johansson. Oxfam expressed its concern at Ms Johansson’s lack of guilt over advertising SodaStream, asking her to “[consider] the implications”, and said it was thinking about what this all means “for Ms Johansson’s role as Oxfam global ambassador”. And then, brilliantly, totally stealing Oxfam’s puffed-up thunder, Ms Johansson’s people issued a statement saying: “Scarlett Johansson has respectfully decided to end her ambassador role with Oxfam after eight years.” Sassy Actress 1, Self-Important Moaners About Israel 0.

Ms Johansson broke her links with Oxfam over what she calls “a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement”. That is, Oxfam thinks this movement is hunky dory; Ms Johansson thinks it isn’t. In taking this stance, Ms Johansson is being pretty rebellious. There is enormous pressure on the well-known and the well-connected to boycott Israel. Any pop singer who dares to perform there is bombarded with letters, emails and tweets telling them to rethink. Any Western shop that stocks Israeli produce can expect despressed-looking middle-class white people in Arafat-style keffiyehs to turn up on a Saturday morning waving banners saying “Stop supporting Zionism!” Various academic unions boycott Israeli universities, turning that nation’s professors into the lepers of modern intellectual life, as if their words – on stuff as innocent as physics or philosophy – are wont to poison and corrupt those who hear them.

As for Israeli theatre troupes or dance groups that come to Western European nations to perform – they will find themselves hollered at and complained about by our right-on arts world. When Habima, Israel’s national theatre company, came to Britain in 2012 to take part in an international Shakespeare festival at the Globe, luvvies wrote open letters expressing their “dismay” and claiming that by including Habima the Globe was “associating itself with the policies of exclusion practised by the Israeli state”. Notably, the presence at the Globe of theatre companies from authoritarian regimes, including Zimbabwe and China, was not complained about. Nope, just Israel. Because Israel is different, you see. It’s really horrible. We hate it. And we love to hate it.

There is nothing remotely progressive in this campaign to boycott everything Israeli, with its double standards about various nations’ behaviour and its shrill rhetoric about everything that comes from Israel being covered in Palestinian blood. This movement is not designed to have any kind of positive impact in the Middle East but rather is about making certain Western activists feel righteous and pure through allowing them to advertise how Israeli-free their lives are. It’s illiberal, because it effectively demands the censoring of Israeli academics and performers; it’s hypocritical, because it is led by people who are only too happy to use iPhones made in undemocratic China and to vote for the Labour Party, which, er, bombed the hell out of Middle Eastern countries for the best part of 10 years; and it has unfortunate ugly echoes of earlier campaigns to boycott Jewish shops and produce. So three cheers for Ms Johansson for taking a very public stand against this right-on pressure to treat Israel as the most evil nation on Earth.

 View something about the Sodastream plant and its virtues at;