Palestinian Authority ‘Consenting to Its Own Colonization’

Swimming pool in the Israeli West Bank Settlement of Ariel

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By Richard Edmondson
In a way, what’s revealed in this article is not surprising. The Palestinian Authority, which does have some limited control over parts of the West Bank, has been obliged/coerced by Israel to provide water services to Israeli settlements there—settlements which are illegal under international law and which are the main obstacle to any peace agreement. But not only that, this practice has been going on for an incredible 15 years, a period during which the settlements have rapidly expanded and become more numerous.

As the author of the study puts it, the Palestinian Authority has essentially consented “to its own colonization and has not contested Israel’s cynical tactics as forcefully as it might have done.”


Researcher Uncovers Hidden Facts of Israeli-Palestinian Water Politics

Source: University of Sussex

The Israeli government has been forcing the Palestinian Authority into approving water infrastructure for illegal West Bank settlements for the past 15 years, according to research by a University of Sussex academic.

The research by Senior Lecturer in International Relations Dr Jan Selby  published (5 February 2013) in the journal Water Alternatives.1

It presents the first known evidence of the Palestinian Authority lending its official consent to parts of Israel’s settlement expansion programme.

Settlements and related infrastructure are illegal under international law, and are recognised as one of the major obstacles to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The research is based on minutes of the Joint Water Committee – an Israeli-Palestinian body often upheld as an example of good Israeli-Palestinian relations – and interviews with participants. Dr Selby concludes that:



·         Israel has repeatedly made its approval of improvements to Palestinian water supplies conditional upon Palestinian Authority approval of new water facilities for Israeli settlements;

·         the Palestinians, who face serious water shortage issues and an underdeveloped supply system, have given this approval in almost every case;

·         the arrangement was known about by former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and current President Abu Mazen;

·         international donors have known that Israel’s approval of donor-funded projects for Palestinians is conditional on Palestinian approval of Israeli settlement infrastructures, but have preferred to remain silent on the issue;

·         the Palestinian water crisis in the West Bank has significantly worsened since the creation of the Joint Water Committee.

Dr Selby says: “None of the parties emerge very well from these findings. Israel has been exploiting Palestinian desperation for improved water supplies. The Palestinian Authority has been pressured into consenting to its own colonisation and has not contested Israel’s cynical tactics as forcefully as it might have done.

“And international donors have variously stood by or been complicit in activity which is contrary to international law, and contrary to their own policies on the peace process, and which has helped to undermine the possibility of a two state solution.”



Notes for Editors

 1 ‘Cooperation, domination and colonisation: The Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee’ by Dr Jan Selby is published online by the journal Water Alternatives.

Dr Jan Selby is a Senior Lecturer in International Relations in the School of Global Studies, University of Sussex, and Director of the Sussex Centre for International Security (SCIS).

Dr Selby is widely published on Israeli-Palestinian and Middle Eastern water politics. He is author of Water, Power and Politics in the Middle East: The Other Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (IB Tauris, 2003), and more recently was Principal Investigator on the EU Framework 7-funded project Climate Change, Hydro-Conflicts and Human Security (CLICO), undertaking research on water-climate-conflict linkages in Cyprus, Israel-Palestine and Sudan. Dr Selby has served widely as a consultant and advisor on water policy issues.

For interviews please contact the University of Sussex Press office.

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune and Jacqui Bealing. Tel: 01273 678 888. Email:press@sussex.ac.uk

View press releases online at: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/newsandevents/

Stolen Land and Water: A Journey to Maale




Swimming pool at Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim



By Richard Edmondson

Yesterday after I posted an article about Israel forcing the Palestinian Authority to provide water infrastructure to its illegal settlements—an article which included a photo of a swimming pool in the West Bank settlement of Ariel—a reader emailed me: “I just noted the swimming pool on your blog accompanying the water research article. But that weeny pool is dwarfed by the Maale Adumim central Olympic pool.”

The reader’s email included a link to a web page promoting the settlement mentioned, Maale Adumim, located in the West Bank, approximately 7 kilometers from Jerusalem. If we go to the page and scroll just below midway down we find a photo of what appears to be, sure enough, an Olympic-sized swimming pool and—along with the photo—text informing us this is not the only swimming pool in Maale, but actually is one of four.

Yesterday’s post, entitled Palestinian Authority Consenting to Its Own Colonization, included a report by Dr. Jan Selby, a University of Sussex researcher, who found that the Israeli government “has repeatedly made its approval of improvements to Palestinian water supplies conditional upon Palestinian Authority approval of new water facilities for Israeli settlement.” Furthermore, “the Palestinians, who face serious water shortage issues and an underdeveloped supply system, have given this approval in almost every case.”

Selby additionally reported on something called the “Joint Water Committee,” presumably made up of both Israelis and Palestinians, which regulates water supplies in the West Bank, but which apparently leaves much to be desired—the researcher informs us the “Palestinian water crisis in the West Bank has significantly worsened” since the committee’s creation.

Significantly worsened for Palestinians, that is—but apparently not for the Israelis or their illegal settlements. In fact, water-wise everything seems to be just peachy in the settlements. If you look up Maale at Wikipedia, you find the following photo:

Artificial lake, Ma’ale Adumim
The caption underneath the photo reads, “Artificial lake, Ma’ale Adumim.” So the settlement has not only an Olympic pool (and three other pools as well), but also an artificial lake.

Passing reference to the lake is also made at the aforementioned web page, although the fact that the lake is artificial is omitted:

Maale Adumim has all the advantages of a city: an enclosed mall and several strip malls, a municipal government center, intra-city transportation, an extensive library, health services, an art museum, sports and recreational facilities, a lake, a music conservatory, parks and more. It also has many of the advantages of a small town. It is clean and pleasant, surrounded by palm trees and a breathtaking desert view, and is only 20 minutes from downtown Jerusalem.

I should probably here pause and mention that the website where the above appears is that of Nefesh B’Nefesh, an organization which exhorts Jews to make “aliyah” to Israel. I should also probably mention that Maale Adumim lies in the so-called “E1” area just east of Jerusalem. Last November, one day after Palestine’s successful statehood recognition campaign at the UN, Israel announced intentions to build 3,000 new settler homes in the E1 area. The move was widely seen as retaliation for the statehood vote.

The Nefesh B’Nefesh site provides a sort of virtual guided tour of the illegal settlement:

Maale Adumim’s Matnas (community center) offers dozens of activities for all ages, such as: sports, concerts, music, dance, shows, 4 swimming pools and an outstanding music program. There are also tennis and basketball courts as well as soccer fields. A baseball team for boys ages 8-12 has also started in the city.

The local library has a large collection of English books for children and adults. There is an English book club for adults. There is also an active club for retirees (55+) which offers a multitude of social activities (some of which are in English), as well as a weekly English-speakers’ senior club.

Maale sits at a very high elevation roughly midway between Jericho and Jerusalem. It is an area that is extremely dry and has little natural vegetation. If you look at the map below you can see that this area is strategically located between the northern and southern West Bank. Some critics have charged that the new settlement project will essentially bisect the West Bank, making a contiguous Palestinian state impossible.

 River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

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