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OPINION / Israel

Israel's water miracle that wasn't

Covering up a crime in plain sight: The dual function of Israel's water industry.

by Charlotte Silver
30 Mar 2014 GMT+3

Mekorot's governance of water ensures Palestinians remain on their knees of dependence on Israel - prohibited from using the water flowing beneath their feet or develop their own water infrastructure. The years immediately following Israel's usurpation of Palestine's water resources saw a sharp 20 percent decline in Palestine's agricultural production. Nearly 200,000 Palestinians in the West Bank have no access to running water, nor do Palestinians have the ability to collect water themselves without explicit permission, which is rarely granted.

Mekorot executes this crime of theft all the while Israel maintains that it has the solutions to scant rainfall and scarcity of water, and that Mekorot provides humanitarian assistance to parched and needy Palestinians.

March 22 marked World Water Day, a day commemorated globally every year since 1993. This year, the day was intentionally chosen to kick off a week-long protest against Mekorot - dubbed International Week Against Mekorot - that will end on March 30, Palestine's Land Day. The campaign is crucial amid the current amplification of Israel's trumpeting its water tech prowess.

Mekorot began expanding internationally in 2005; a year that also saw the launch of  Brand Israel Group, a multimillion-dollar initiative to improve the country's image abroad, in which the exporting of commodities plays a useful role. Israel is presented as the country that provides an answer to one of the globe’s most ominous threats - global warming, drought, and water scarcity.

"Israel has taken the challenge of water scarcity and built an export industry in water tech," Will Sarni of Deloitte Consulting, recently wrote, noting that the industry saw a 170 percent increase in exports in six years. McKinsey has estimated that the global water market is the third or fourth largest commodity market in the world.

And, while the Palestinian Authority long resisted desalination projects as a substitute for restoring water rights to Palestinians, today it has embraced these technical solutions - yet another indication of its impotence as a political entity.

Yet in spite of all this, not everyone is buying Israel's campaign of bluster and braggadocio. Proponents of BDS, a movement calling for boycotts and sanctions against Israel, have already scored significant victories against Mekorot: The Netherlands and Argentina recently cancelled contracts with Mekorot, citing Mekorot's violation of international law.

The significance of these successes cannot be overstated: A clear indication that the call for BDS is reaching the ears of government leaders and, perhaps more important, that Zionists are failing in their ceaseless quest to make the world forget their crimes against Palestinians.

Charlotte Silver is an independent journalist in San Francisco. She was formerly based in the Occupied West Bank, Palestine.


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