Turn to the nation's most objective and informative daily environmental news resource to learn how the United States and key players around the world are responding to the environmental...
Aug. 17— The mayor of Nablus, the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank, and the entire city council resigned after a shortage of water during a severe heat wave caused widespread protests in the city.
The demonstrators accused the municipality of “unequal distribution” of water to the city's neighborhoods. In particular, they claimed, water supply was cut off to the Balata and Askar refugee camps east of Nablus, forcing residents to buy more expensive water from private suppliers.
The protests also reflected broad opposition to a municipal decision to install prepaid water meters in private homes to prevent water theft.
Nader Khateeb, Palestinian director of Ecopeace Middle East, an NGO focusing on regional water cooperation, called it a “lose-lose situation.”
Nablus Mayor Ghassan Shaka'ah “did a lot to improve life in Nablus, including water, sanitation and other issues,” Khateeb told Bloomberg BNA August 17. A temporary committee has been appointed to run the city until new elections can take place, but meanwhile, “the people who don't pay their water bills won, which may encourage others not to pay, and that will make it even more difficult for the municipality to pay its water bill to Israel,” Khateeb said.
Shaka'ah said he and the city council members decided to resign to avoid “chaos” in Nablus because of the water crisis.
But the trend could spread to other Palestinian towns and cities.
“If the biggest and most powerful Palestinian municipality wasn't able to solve its water problem, no other city will touch it,” Khateeb said.
The protests coincided with a severe heat wave during which the amount of water supplied to the region by Mekorot, Israel's national water company, did not keep up with increased demand.
Although Mekorot declined comment, Water Authority Spokesman Uri Schor told Bloomberg BNA Aug. 16 that water pressure in the northern West Bank dropped “temporarily” on Aug. 12, at the peak of the heat wave. The shortages were felt in both Jewish and Arab communities, he said, and water supply was later increased to make up for the shortfall.
Schor also blamed much of the problem on “water theft” by Palestinian farmers who divert resources from the regional grid to irrigate their crops, so that less reaches the cities.
“I don't condone it, but I do understand it,” said Khateeb. “Palestinian farmers today get less water than ever, and Israel hasn't approved a single new well in the region. The shortage doesn't justify taking water, but people have to make a living.”
The Palestinian Authority is in an ongoing dispute over Israel's supply of water and electricity to the West Bank. Supply is insufficient and undependable, so residents refuse to pay for it, they say. Israel then deducts the unpaid debt from tax revenues its collects on behalf of the PA, further reducing its income and ability to supply basic services to the Palestinian population.
“In this situation, no elected official will try to advance a water policy,” Khaleed said, adding that “water and politics must be separated if we are to move forward.”
To contact the reporter on this story, Jenny David in Jerusalem: firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at email@example.com
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)