About Us

Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine
UK architects, planners and other construction industry professionals campaigning for a just peace in Israel/Palestine.


Ewash Report: Israel's total control of water in the West Bank

1. Israel retains control of all underground and surface water resources in the West Bank. Due to allocations of transboundary water resources agreed upon under the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (1995), Palestinians are only allowed to abstract 20 percent of the "estimated potential" of the Mountain aquifer under the West Bank, Israel abstracts the balance (80 percent) plus overdraws its sustainable yield often by more than 50 percent. Palestinians need Israeli permits to develop their water resources and infrastructure and are severely restricted on what they can do through the Joint Water Committee (JWC). The JWC was established to implement the Oslo Interim Agreement on Water, to oversee management of the shared aquifers and to ensure that the West Bank receives the extra water accorded under Article 40Whilst both Israelis and Palestinians sit on this committee, Israel has veto power and final say on decisions. A number of essential projects for Palestinians have been denied permits or delayed as a result. To make up for part of the supply shortfall, Palestinians are forced to buy water from Mekorot, the Israeli national water company, some of which extracted from wells within the West Bank. This has increased Palestinian dependency on Israel.

2. Average Palestinian consumption of water is of 50 lpcpd, well below the 100 litres recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). In contrast, the average Israeli daily per capita consumption is at least four times the Palestinian average from available freshwater, but rises to 300 litres when taking into account non-conventional water production such as desalinated seawater.


3. Marginalized communities in the West Bank survive on less than 20 litres per capita a day, the minimum amount recommended by the WHO in emergency situations to sustain life. The situation is particularly worrying in Area C, an area under full Israeli control, which comprises 60 percent of the West Bank, and where Israeli settlements are often located. There, Palestinian communities need to apply for permits, (which are rarely granted), from the Israeli Civil Administration for even small development projects such as replacement of pipes or installation of rainwater harvesting cisterns (as a strategy to cope with the lack of a water network or the insufficient supply of water through the network). Communities often resort to building without permits, risking the issuance of demolition orders, which is now a routine practice of the Israeli military in Area C. In contrast, settlements nearby have unrestricted access to water, well-watered lawns and swimming pools.

4. Around 200,000 Palestinians in the West Bank have no access to water network connections. As a result, they have to travel long distances to the nearest water source (e.g. filling point) and pay high amounts for tankered water of dubious quality. Furthermore, the ability of Palestinians to reach sources of water is obstructed due to movement and access restrictions such as checkpoints, earth mounds, and the separation wall, imposed by the Israeli military. These increase significantly the costs of accessing water with some families having to pay as much as 40 percent of their monthly income for water (global accepted standard is 4 percent). Those with network connections often have their pipes run dry, especially during the summer months, when Israel rations water to Palestinian communities (but not to settlements) to only a few days a week.

5. Restrictions on access to water, in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law have increased the risk of displacement of Palestinians from certain areas. In July 2010, Israel halted the supply of water to Al-Farasiye (Jordan Valley) before demolishing most of the village.

6. Only 31 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank are linked to the sewage network, with only one Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) in operation, due to Israel’s refusal to grant the necessary combination of Joint Water Committee approval or Civil Administration permits, or Israeli military security clearance for the construction and operation of sanitation and wastewater treatment facilities. The approval process for the Salfit WWTP has been held up by Israel since 1996 for example.

7. None of the settlement "outposts" have wastewater treatment facilities and existing facilities in settlements are often non-functioning or provide limited or insufficient treatment of wastewater. Raw sewage from settlements often flows through the West Bank valleys and serves as a public health and environmental risk. One example of this is the millions of litres of raw sewage flowing from the Jerusalem Municipality (mostly from occupied East Jerusalem), for 30 km along Wadi al Nar, to the Dead Sea.

8. Settlers often vandalize Palestinian water infrastructure, contaminating wells and springs as well as destroying infrastructure and livelihoods. For instance, villagers from Madama, at-Tuwani and Sussia are often targets despite being under Israeli administrative and security control in Area C.