Civil Administration slams French water report

Response laments that the words "Israel", "apartheid" will appear together in headlines, "and unfortunately some will believe it."

January 29, 2012 20:26
3 minute read.
Palestinian woman carrying water

Palestinian woman carrying water 390 (R). (photo credit: Nayef Haslamoun / Reuters)


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The civil administration has deemed a French parliamentary report on Israel’s “apartheid” water policies “too biased” to be taken seriously, but warns that the report still damaged the country’s public image.

“The harm is already done, as the words ‘Israel’ and ‘apartheid’ will appear together in headlines across the world,” the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria wrote in an official response to the report. “And unfortunately, some will believe it.”

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The report, a case study on “The Jordan Basin: Water as an Integrated Hinge of the Territorial Conflict and Security Question,” was a 20- page excerpt from a more-than- 300-page publication on “The Geopolitics of Water,” written by French politician Jean Glavany (Socialist Party) and published by the French National Assembly on December 13. In its section on the Jordan Basin, the report examines the region’s ongoing water crisis and attributes much of Palestinian water distress to Israeli policies.

Toward the end of the chapter, an inset gray box labeled “Water, revealer of a new apartheid in the Middle East” takes the section’s criticisms of Israel to an even greater level, stressing that the region has become “the theater of a new apartheid” at the hands of the Jewish state, which is implementing “racial segregation” between Palestinians and Jews in an “arrogant and contemptuous” manner.

In response, the civil administration has slammed Glavany for conducting poor research and only resorting to “international brand names” such as UN human rights groups for his information, rather than seeking facts from authorities here.

“His report presents a dull tour of the most common misconceptions on water in the West Bank,” the response said.

Among these misconceptions are the ideas that settlers have privileged access to water in times of drought, as well as the notion that Israel has full control over the West Bank’s resources. In fact, the civil administration said settler consumption does not affect Palestinian consumption whatsoever, and both Palestinian and Israeli officials approve water projects with full veto power on the Joint Water Committee.

The response also refutes the French claim that most new wells require drilling in Area C, and that the civil administration blocks all permit applications for facilities in Area C of the West Bank, which under the Oslo Accords is under full Israeli control.

Rejecting Glavany’s statement that “Israel has a policy of demolishing Palestinian water structures,” the civil administration wrote that it only destroys facilities that were built without the approval of the Joint Water Committee, and only after three years worth of sending appeals to the Palestinians to handle the matter.

“Glavany has contributed nothing to the international debate as each of these points is lazily parroted from existing NGO or IGO [intergovernmental organization] reports,” the civil administration response added.

A final point of the French report, which states that Israel diverts water by drilling wells on the Israeli side of the security barrier in water sources that would otherwise reach the Palestinians, the civil administration deemed “laughable.”

“Had Mr. Glavany done so much as taken a short car ride, this is something he would have been able to see for himself – but perhaps truthfulness was not a sufficiently important cause to warrant the effort,” the civil administration added.

The response goes on to call his claims “libelous” and “painfully frustrating for Israeli government officials,” who saw Glavany’s approach as taking the easy way out and not verifying his research. About two weeks ago, the Foreign Ministry had similarly slammed the French legislator’s words as “venomous” and charged him for using his “blatant bias” and “evading the facts.”

Palestinian Authority Water Minister Dr. Shaddad Attili said, however, that the report draws international attention to “Israel’s discriminatory water policies,” and agreed that the regulations do “constitute a form of water apartheid.”

Attili said that Israel has been systematically demolishing Palestinian rainwaterharvesting cisterns and wells and that Palestinians are not receiving their rightful share of water. The Palestinians’ “crippling water shortages” are “artificially engineered by Israel as a matter of policy,” he said.

“Without water, and without ensuring Palestinian water rights, there can be no viable or sovereign Palestinian state,” Attili said.

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