Water Grab on the West Bank

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ehud Olmert's July 17 op-ed, "Stop Focusing on the Settlements," omitted vital information. The former Israeli prime minister suggested that construction and population growth within current settlement boundaries should be a matter of indifference. But he ignored the fact that precious water resources are being diverted from Palestinian towns into settlements and that this theft can only increase as consumption within the settlements increases.

On average, one settler uses five times as much water as one Palestinian in the West Bank. As settlers pour copious quantities of water on their emerald lawns, nearby Palestinian families often encounter dry faucets, forcing them to purchase water -- water that is sometimes delivered in unsanitary containers, causing illness. On a trip I took recently to the region with the group Friends of Sabeel, a school official in Bethlehem told me that the school's families had endured a month without water other than what was bought.

In addition to this diversion of water, the settlers are polluting Palestinian agricultural lands by dumping garbage and industrial waste. I have seen an eye-popping mountain of settlers' garbage adjacent to the Palestinian village of Jayyous.

So let us hear no more about the alleged necessity of allowing the settler population to expand. Even if Israel begins to abide by its agreement to halt its confiscation of Palestinian land, its ever-encroaching appropriation of Palestinian resources must also be stopped if there is to be any hope for a viable Palestinian state and, thus, for the two-state solution that Mr. Olmert professes to support.

CAROLE C. BURNETT

Silver Spring


© 2009 The Washington Post Company