Israel has been internationally condemned for its deliberate policy of depriving millions of Palestinians access to regular clean water through the theft of water resources and destruction of wells and pipes in Palestinians communities.
Yet, the New South Wales government is stepping up collaboration with Israel on water management, signing what it dubbed a “historic” agreement with the apartheid regime late last year.
The agreement comes as the situation in drought-stricken NSW regional towns — many of which have large Indigenous populations — continues to worsen, in large part due to the state government’s prioritisation of the interests of large agribusiness and mining over those of communities.
NSW water minister Melinda Pavey and Israeli energy minister Dr Yuval Steinitz signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on water cooperation in Jerusalem last November. In 2013, Steinitz was Strategy and Intelligence Minister and oversaw the activities of the defence establishment’s secret services and the Atomic Energy Commission.
In reality, Israel has used control over water resources to continue its war on Palestinians, whose land it occupies since 1948.
Israel controls nearly 80% of the water in the Palestinian territory of the West Bank, ensuring that Palestinians — who consume four times less water than Israeli settlers in the West Bank — are forced to buy back water from Israel at exorbitant prices.
Israel has also blocked almost all Palestinian attempts to build wells to extract water from the main aquifer below the West Bank and destroyed numerous existing wells critical to agriculture in the area.
In spite of this, Pavey praised Israel for “virtually drought-proofed its cities and continu[ing] to provide farmers with water”.
“In NSW, we’re improving water security and efficiency, and this ongoing relationship with Israel will provide us with invaluable insights into how we can improve this.”
During her trip, Pavey also visited Yehuda to meet the CEO of TaKaDu, an Israeli company that has contracts with Sydney Water and Victoria’s Central Highlands Water. The agreement builds on previous NSW-Israel initiatives.
Parts of Yehud are located on Palestinian land that was ethnically cleansed by the Israeli army in 1948. Today, the town has a population of 29,930, of which 38 are “Arabs”.
The agreement builds on previous NSW-Israel initiatives.
In September 2017, NSW launched its Research and Development Tech Innovation Program with Israel to help companies partner with Israeli counterparts in cyber security, water management and agri-technology.
This followed on from the MoU for Bilateral Cooperation in R&D and Technology Innovation signed in April 2016.
Human rights activists, along with those fighting to put water back into NSW’s rivers, must demand the state government break off all agreements with Israel — an apartheid regime that uses water as a weapon against Palestinian people.