by Martin Sherman
The Israeli occupation changed local agriculture profoundly. It introduced modern technology, including mechanization, precision tillage, pest control, plastic covering of crops for temperature control, high yielding varieties, postharvest processing of produce, marketing and export outlets. It also introduced efficient methods of irrigation, including sprinkler and especially drip irrigation. Consequently, output increased greatly, and farming was transformed from a subsistence enterprise to a commercial industry. — Daniel Hillel,
The above excerpt is sufficient to heap richly-deserved ridicule on the recent Amnesty International report claiming that
By some curious coincidence, one of the issues raised by Barghouti to justify the BDS (boycott-cum-divestment-cum-sanctions) campaign was
The facts, however, paint a very different - indeed antithetical - picture to that painted by the A/B (Amnesty/Barghouti) duo. For by every conceivable measure of consumption of fresh water, the lot of the Palestinians has improved dramatically - indeed beyond all recognition - since 1967 under Israeli administration, whether it be overall consumption, per capita consumption, consumption relative to Israel/Israelis, conveyance of running water to households, area under agricultural cultivation or size of the agricultural product.
In the period 1967-2006 the overall annual consumption of the Palestinians in the
Moreover, from 1967 to the years preceding
LIKEWISE, AS can be inferred by the opening citation from Hillel, there was a dramatic enhancement of agricultural performance - even though water allocations were not increased. This was facilitated by more advanced methods of cultivation/irrigation introduced under Israeli rule. (In this regard it should be remembered that Israeli farmers have had their water allocations significantly reduced since 1967.) This resulted in an increase of the cultivated area by about 160% and of the agricultural product by 1200%.
Furthermore, the malicious and mendacious claims that the luscious lawns and shimmering swimming pools in the Jewish settlements are unfairly and provocatively depriving Palestinians of water are belied by a single statistic. For
In other words, there is a net inflow of water from pre-1967
Indeed it is intriguing to note striking similarities between the language used and the issues raised in the document produced by Amnesty and in the advance fliers publicizing the allegedly unconnected Barghouti appearances. Both, for example, state that
This assertion is factually accurate but meaningless in terms of its significance and misleading in terms of its presentation. For while is indeed true that Israel uses 80% of the waters of the aquifer today, in the pre-occupation times - before 1967 - it utilized 90% of these waters which flow naturally into the Coastal Plain and the Jezreel Valley. In other words, since the advent of occupation, there is actually more water available from the aquifer to the Palestinians - because of more efficient utilization and advances in irrigation techniques, increased use of recycled sewage and desalination by
Moreover while the A/B claims that per capita consumption of water by Israelis is much higher than that of the Palestinian population are true, this is principally a result of differences in demand (rather than supply) due to differences in lifestyles. Similarly, different rates of consumption occur between the Jewish and Arab populations within pre-1967
WITH REGARD to supply stoppages (which by the way also regularly occur in Arab capitals such as
Amnesty/Barghouti present a stream of amazingly similar heart-rending anecdotal evidence - typically presented without any independent corroboration - regarding the desperate distress of individual Palestinians, allegedly the victims of Israel's deliberate policy of deprivation. These, however, are indicative neither of the intentions nor the implications of overall policy. Significantly, an
Moreover, even if there is some truth in these scattered accounts of local IDF abuse, they cannot be taken as representative of wider realities which the preceding figures clearly demonstrate. Indeed, little reflection is needed to realize the alleged destruction of individual cisterns and rooftop tanks would be a singularly ineffective method to use water as a depopulating technique when far more pervasive options are available.
In an incredibly mindless statement on its Web site, reflecting either immense ignorance or deliberate disregard of hydrological realities, Amnesty issues a demand which if ever implemented would spell certain doom for the aquifer - for Israelis and Palestinians alike: "Israel must... immediately lift all the restrictions it imposes on Palestinians' access to water..."
One can hardly wait for the next Amnesty report on inequitable use of shared water resources and for it to direct the same demands at, say, Egypt, whose coercive policy preventing making any upstream riparian use of the Nile flowing through their sovereign territory is causing widespread famine and starvation. This is especially acute in
One assumes that such a report must already be under preparation, for one can hardly believe that Amnesty would be guilty of applying a double standard to
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