On West Bank Infrastructure, Time to Circumvent the Palestinian Authority

by Gedalyah Reback

The Israeli government is faced with a slew of responsibilities that it seems to either be neglecting, or rejects having an obligation to fulfill. But taking these obligations as opportunities would give the country an opportunity to force the renewal of peace talks without preconditions, or simply steer the peace process in a totally new direction.

Water
Take for instance the problem of water in the West Bank. As reported by the Christian Science Monitor recently, there is a continuing dispute between Israel and residents of the West Bank about water allocation from the area’s main aquifier. (What’s an aquifer?, check here). West Bankers tend to accuse Israeli settlements of cutting into major water resources, drying out springs and wells. But this does not consider the role the Palestinian Authority also plays in some of this diversion, nor does it mean that the Israeli government actually is obligated to create the infrastructure for local water supplies.

But the lack of an obligation is not reason enough to avoid taking the initiative on the issue. Given the precarious strength of the Palestinian Authority, and the strong possibility the West Bank will become a part of Israel (in part or whole), Israel would solidify authority by apportioning more water to more places.

Implementing New Tech on Massive Public Level
Israel’s water treatment infrastructure, mostly via desalinization technology, is allowing Israel to alter Mediterranean salt water into viable drinking supplies, allowing the region’s stressed ecology (such as the low-level Sea of Galilee and Jordan River) to replenish. According to some, the country will be depending on this type of water much more than underground and river sources by 2012.

A Simple Cost Benefit for the Economy and Security
Old ideas, like the creation of a water pipeline from Turkey, are quickly becoming cliche. But the preventative measure in all this is the willingness to commit anywhere from 200 – 400 million shekels per year from now on ($50-100 million) to solve the water shortage problem. Considering the rapid growth of the water industry, and the help clean technologies are getting from economic booster packages worldwide, there will be plenty more cause to make this a cornerstone for Israel in providing the infrastructure in the West Bank and forcing the Palestinian Authority back to the table, or to make good on its threat to collapse.

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