This is welcome, and almost unbelievable, news. (Israeli and Arab Scientists Work Together to Solve Regional Water Challenges Boulder Jewish News 8/10/23.) Of course, it’s obvious that both Israelis and Palestinians need to be concerned about the condition of water that flows across the boundaries people have established. Yet reports from Israel and from Palestinian-administered areas have differed considerably. Israel is hailed as a leader in desalination, reclaiming wastewater, developing innovations such as drip irrigation, and producing drinking water from the air. On the other hand, we are told that pollution caused by raw sewage and rising seawater has made 90 percent of Gaza’s water unfit to drink and that nearly 10 percent of Palestinian communities in the Judea and Samaria have no access to piped potable water systems.
In addition, while there are many Israeli organizations in which Jews and Arabs work together (and many Israeli groups trying to improve relations with the Palestinians), Palestinian leaders have discouraged Palestinians from cooperating with Israelis. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement seeks to weaken Israel by working to bankrupt Jewish businesses in Judea and Samaria which employ Palestinian and Israeli workers, and which serve Palestinian and Israeli consumers. Palestinian leaders have also decried Palestinians for “normalizing the Occupation” when those Palestinians have joined Israelis in seeking an end to the conflict.
I hope that the joint efforts encouraged by the Arava Institute will continue and will help to bring about a change in Palestinian leaders, who need to shift their efforts from trying to delegitimize and dismantle the nation-state of the Jews and, instead, begin working toward building a Palestinian state in which the people living under their administration can become productive citizens, working to build a better future for their children.
Toby F. Block