Select Committee on International Development Written Evidence

Supplementary memorandum submitted by Take-A-Pen for Israel



  Since the Oslo Agreement there has been mostly very good co-operation between the professional Palestinian and Israeli sides in water, sewage and agriculture related subjects. Activities were rather well coordinated by a joint Israeli-Palestinian action committee, led by the Water Commissioner of Israel and the Head of the Palestinian Water Authority, as his deputy.

  During Israeli administration in Judea and Samaria, alias West Bank, since 1967 the water supply system has dramatically improved there, for example running water in 1999 reached more than 95% of the rural population versus around 20% in 1967. This may be considered as the duty of Israel, as an occupying power, but the fact is that the duty has been properly done.

  But in the last two years the committee, unfortunately, ceased to meet physically, formally as if because of dangers of the renewed violence, actually, seemingly, also because of PA instructions

  While the co-operation between water officials of the two sides was mostly acceptable, the same between Israeli and Palestinian water professionals has always been, and remained, very good. Israel and its professional water institutions, like the Grand Water Research Institute (GWRI), headed by Professor Raphael Semiat (earlier by Professor Uri Shamir), shared most willingly Israel's pioneering knowledge and actual experience in water administration and successful agriculture in arid and semi-arid areas, recognized world-wide, with the Palestinians and Jordanians. There have been many joint research and actual projects, the attached (Attachment A) batch of fifteen papers, reports and abstracts on good co-operation and joint projects may be impressive, though only a very few illustrations out of many more.

  The titles of these papers, reports and abstracts, attached (Not printed. Copies placed in the Library), are:

1/ 12512—Water Sources and Quality along the Lower Jordan River, a Regional Study.

2/ 17254—Treatment and Reuse of Wastewater in Rural Communities.

3/ Palestinian—Jordanian—Israeli Project on Wastewater Treatment and Reuse.

4/ PJIP Joint Project—Section 2. Groundwater quality and pollution.

5/ 17624—Wastewater Treatment and Reuse for Environment Protection and Enhancement of Agricultural Production (incl. Socio-Cultural Study), Oct. 2000—March 2001.

6/ 17256—Wastewater Treatment and Reuse in Agricultural Production, July 2002.

7/ 9298—Use of Marginal Water for Agricultural Production in Jordan.

8/ 9297—Wastewater Treatment and Recycling: From Raw Sewage to Valuable Effluent and Energy Resources.

9/ 9296—Wastewater Treatment and Recycling: From Raw Sewage to Valuable Effluent and Energy Resources.

10/ Use of Marginal Water in Agricultural Production in Jordan.

11/ Use of Brackish and Saline Water on Cherry Tomatoes.

12/ Temporal and Spatial Variation of Wastewater Quality in Nablus Western Wastewater Open Channel.

13/ Cooperation for the Solution of Problems Related to Wastewater Treatment and Reuse in Agriculture.

14/ Implementation of Sequencing Batch Reactor (SBR) Treatment Technology in Palestine.

15/ Wastewater Treatment and Recycling: From Raw Sewage to Valuable Effluent and Energy Resources—Progress Report.

General content of the documents on co-operation

  These documents witness very good Palestinian-Israeli or Palestinian-Israeli-Jordanian co-operation on diverse water and agricultural subjects. These are papers and applied research authored by Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian researchers, separately or together, and reports on actual joint projects, all contributed to this submission by Professor Raphael Semiat, Director of the Grand Water Research Institute (GWRI Technion, Israel's oldest university of technologies) out of a wide range of joint Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli research and actual projects, his institute has been leading or participated in, in the last decade.

  The Select Committee can follow in these documents the numerous manifestations of good co-operation, absolutely open sharing of know-how, in the text, in the names of the researchers or in the geography of the joint projects, in places we partly emphasized by italics, for the convenience of this Inquiry

  Only one of the attached documents is not one on good co-operation but on a conflict in the field of Palestinian sewage systems.

  The Select Committee and experts can see the merits of different joint I-P and also I-P-J joint projects in these papers, and far beyond them through the GWRI Water Research Institute.

  Behind each of these documents there is complex and basically successful cooperation.

  One example for the projects shared and described in papers 3 and 4 is the Palestinian-Jordanian-Israeli wastewater Treatment Project (PJIP). Another one(11) was to find the most effective use of treated marginal water for growing cherry tomatoes, a complex water treatment and agricultural research project of Israel, the involvement of Palestinian researchers in which led actually to a typical transfer of Israeli know-how, worth tens of million dollars, as a goodwill gesture to the Palestinians. One may wonder whether there are many such one-sided transfers of know-how in the world today, to one's competitors tomorrow.


  But unfortunately co-operation did go on always undisturbed and reports to the media and public were many times much worse than reality.

  In a region of inherent water shortage there are real conflicts of interests to be solved with much work and mutual good-will. But sometimes, instead, certain Palestinian forces, within and without the PA, acted as if interested to create or preserve conflict. Hostile to the idea of co-operation they tried sometimes to "poison wells", both in the actual and in the human sense.

  Many feel that these elements deliberately hampered solutions to problems, like the on-going pollution of Israel's ground-water from PA-controlled mountain areas by untreated sewage entering groundwater. This suspicion sustains when, surprisingly, several suggestions for proper water treatment plants and systems, with sponsors available with full financing for these projects, were not approved by the PA.

  Part of the reports blaming Israel and the "settlers" for all the water problems of Palestinians are also suspicious of having ill intentions. Expertise behind such reports has never matched that of the well co-operating experts of the two sides; though in cases theirs might have been enough to mislead good intentioned but laymen real human rights activists, or to supply false evidences for self-appointed and not-real human rights activists.

  In case of contradictions between different reports on the Palestinian-Israeli water co-operation or the lack of it one can safely suggest to believe always more to well co-operating experts than to self-righteous and critical half-laymen. Though, unfortunately, expert criticism has to be checked too; it may happen that the same Palestinian expert who expresses thanks to Israeli colleagues for the outstanding support they have received is cited later as blaming Israel, in an environment which knows still more intimidations than real free speech.

  But let's turn again to the mostly good co-operation in the past and discuss how it can grow to even better.


  Full solution for the water problem is not easy in a region where serious water shortage is inherent. Even the limit what is technically possible, can be fully reached only parallel to a political solution.

  But until then there are ample possibilities of beneficial projects in the field of water and sewage systems. Donors of aid can select water or sewage projects from existing lists of projects like the completion of running water supply to the remaining 5% of all Arab villages in need in Judea and Samaria, or West Bank, or initiate new projects, and be involved in the planning and management of such projects from conceptual design and cost estimates and extending budget through engineering and construction until in-service-taking.

  Many of these large new projects are huge, with regional consequences and far-reaching socio-economic and cultural effects on the population and therefore are almost pre-destined for co-operation between the Palestinian and Israeli (and sometimes also the Jordanian) parties.

  For such projects it seems a most viable solution to work in multinational co-operation, the UK being the initiator and donor inspecting the progress, Israel mostly providing technological know-how and securing support of its relevant institutions, while the Palestinian Authority manages and executes most of the project.

  As an example we can take a possible future project, for the comprehensive solution of the today open sewage canal West of Samaria's largest city, Nablus, mentioned in the research paper 12 in Attachment A.

  A new Nablus Western Wastewater Open Channel Replacement Project should provide several results. First, it should eliminate the severe hygienic and environmental harms to the Palestinian population, second, to provide treated marginal waters for Palestinian agricultural needs and finally, to contribute to the improvement of ground-water quality in regional sense.


  Palestinian-Israeli co-operation in the water field, particularly when considering the huge objective difficulties and the detrimental impacts of the violence, has been basically very good, as illustrated by 15 sophisticated and valuable joint research and applied projects out of the existing many more. This is promising for the future, so more ambitious co-operations in the water field can be sought.

The advantages for any future political solutions of giving UK aid partly in the form of joint multilateral UK-Palestinian-Israeli schemes as described above are clear and manifold. First, the resulted improvement in the living conditions of Palestinian population by the joint project would promote their readiness for peace or at least for acceptance of co-existence. Secondly, such a down-to-earth joint project would very much strengthen practical co-operation and mutual trust being so essential for political solutions to come. Third, Israel's suspicion of deliberate Palestinian sewage handling malpractices (one described in the sole negative research paper attached) could slowly fade away, and with good and measurable reasons.

  And last but not least the active presence of the UK's, as benevolent donor's, representatives would contribute to good progress and better understanding, secure authentic information for the public and the world instead of leaning on self-righteous propaganda, and thus to soothing the water conflict and the conflict as a whole.

  Attachments and Appendices submitted with this memorandum have not been printed, but have been placed in the House of Commons Library.

November 2003

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