The agreement with MEKOROT in La Plata (Argentina) has been suspended!

The agreement with MEKOROT in La Plata (Argentina) has been suspended!

Now we continue, in the rest of Argentina…

MEKOROT – agent of Apartheid in Palestine – OUT OF ARGENTINA!

CTA, ATE, Federación de Entidades Argentino-Palestinas (Federation of Argentinian-Palestinian Entities) and Stop the Wall announced the suspension of the shady business with Mekorot, a water treatment plant that would have fuelled Israeli apartheid in Palestine and sought to export it to La Plata in Argentina.

On January 11st 2011, the governor of Buenos Aires province, Daniel Scioli, announced, after visiting Israel, that they would tender the building of a regional water treatment plant in La Plata. The contract worth US$170 million was awarded to a consortium of business conformed by the Israeli Water Company MEKOROT, ASHTROM BV (Spanish-Israeli firm) and the Argentinian “5 de Septiembre SA”, a company in which members of the Sindicato de Obras Sanitarias de Buenos Aires (SOSBA), which owns the 10% of the national and provincial Aguas de Buenos Aires (ABSA), participate.

Since 2011, Palestinian organizations, ATE-CTA unions, other civil society organizations and MPs mobilized against this contact. During more than 3 years, they informed the public about Mekorot’s criminal actions in Palestine and investigated the consequences that Mekorot would cause in Argentina.
In a joint effort, they denounced that public Argentinian money would benefit Mekorot and, through this, finance Israeli apartheid in Palestine. The accusations that Mekorot implements apartheid in Palestine are based onreports by Palestinian organizations, the United Nations, and Amnesty International.

Mekorot has been responsible for water right violations and discrimination since the 1950s, when the national water carrier was built which is diverting the Jordan river from the West Bank and Jordan to serve Israeli communities. At the same time, Mekorot deprives the Palestinian communities from access to water. The average consumption in the occupied Palestinian territories is about 70 liters per capita per day – well below the 100 liters per capita per day recommended by the World Health Organization -, while the Israeli consumption per capita per day is around 300 liters. Mekorot has refused to supply water to Palestinian communities inside Israel, despite a decision by the Supreme Court of Israel recognized their right to water. Mekorot is a proud partner of the Jewish National Fund “Blueprint Negev” plan, which will expel 40,000 Bedouin Palestinian citizens of Israel uprooting them from their homes and forcibly moving them to reserves while their lands will be used for Jewish-only settlements in the Naqab/Negev.

Mekorot’s support for illegal settlements is vital and has continued since 1967 when the company took monopoly control over all water sources in the occupied Palestinian territories and caters to the Jewish settlements to the detriment of Palestinian communities. Mekorot participates in the international crime of pillage of natural resources operating about 42 wells in the West Bank, which mostly cater to Israeli settlements. Mekorot also works closely with the Israeli army in the confiscation of irrigation pipes from Palestinian farmers and destruction of sources of water supply for Palestinian communities.

Beyond the street protests and work in the media, the more than 1000 pages of research and technical details compiled by ATE-CTA, served to substantiate questions in the provincial parliament and allow interventions in front of federal human rights organizations. In late 2012, the construction of Mekorot water plant was suspended.

The organizations insisted that Mekorot intended to export its model of discrimination, squandering of water and illegitimate profits developed in Palestine, now to the detriment of the population of Buenos Aires.

To start with, the entire bid was based on a work plan that had previously been designed by Mekorot, which expectably proposed the lowest price.
The expenditure of public money for water treatment plant and the consequent debt of the city with multinationals is unnecessary as the province of Buenos Aires has excellent aquifers. Puelches Aquifer is saturated and to stop drinking its water – as the Mekorot project envisaged – would have produced the elevation of the water table, bacterial contamination, basement flooding and damage to housing foundations. Reports from the ABSA state that the main problem of drinking water lies in the distribution network for which Mekorot wouldn’t have provided a solution.

For the installation in the region, Mekorot required an increase in water tariffs, until almost tripling the costs. The construction of the plant, also implied a further increase of service that would have exceeded 30% and would be paid by all the users in the region.

In terms of water quality, it would have been below the standards determined by the Argentine Food Code. Only part of the population would have had access to safe drinking water while poorer people would have received only tap water posing a risk to their health.

CTA, ATE, Federación de las Entidades Argentina-Palestinos and Stop the Wall thank to all social and political organizations, experts and individuals who contributed to the campaign ‘Mekorot Out of Argentina’. Together we won an important victory for justice in Palestine and the right to water! We continue to fight for our sovereignty over water, against the violence of multinationals and in solidarity with the Palestinian people for freedom, justice and the return of refugees to their homes.

We ask everyone to continue supporting the global movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel and to fight and prevent other Mekorot contracts in Argentina.

We ask everyone to join the International Week against Mekorot – from 22 to 30 March: “No to water apartheid, Yes for water justice!”

For a Free Palestine and Palestinian self-determination! For the right of water!

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Noise demo in London: say no to Israel’s water apartheid!

The former chair of the board of directors of Israel’s national water company Mekorot was one of the key speakers at a ‘Water Tech’ conference in a London hotel today.

We also “attended” the conference and made ourselves heard in the hotel by blasting out songs and chanting to draw attention and to challenge the ‘water apatheid’ Mekorot is responsible for implementing.
Mekorot provides almost all of the water infrastructure for settlements in the West Bank, and extracts Palestinian water for use by settlers while denying Palestinians access to sufficient water.

The First International Week Against Mekorot takes place between 22 March 2014, World Water Day, and 30 March 2014, when Palestinians mark Land Day:

london mekorot demo

Israel’s water apartheid embraced by Italy

21 February 2014

Israeli occupation forces destroy a water storage tank owned by Palestinians in the village of Dura, near the West Bank city of Hebron, 16 April 2012. (Mamoun Wazwaz / APA images)

Israel’s policy of “water apartheid” made a rare appearance in the mainstream media over the past few weeks.

Martin Schulz, the European Parliament’s president, drew a furious response from some Israeli politicians when he spoke during an address to the Israeli parliament, the Knesset of how Israeli settlers receive far more water than indigenous Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

Although Schulz cited figures mentioned to him by young people in Ramallah that were not accurate, the underlying problem is a very real one. A report published by the United Nations Human Rights Council last year stated that the average Israeli settler consumes as much as 400 liters per day, whereas a Palestinian in the West Bank has to make do with 73 liters and — in the case of many Bedouins — just 10 liters.

Despite that evidence, the Italian authorities have been happy to embrace Mekorot, the Israeli firm which diverts most of the water extracted from Palestinian springs to Israeli settlements.Amnesty International has documented how Palestinians face severe rationing of water, particularly during the summer months, in order to ensure that Israeli settlers can still enjoy their swimming pools and floral displays (“Troubled Waters,” 27 October 2009 [PDF]).

At the Italy-Israel summit in Rome during December 2013, a cooperation agreement was signed between Mekorot and Acea, Italy’s largest water utility. Both firms undertook to examine how “cutting-edge technologies” for water management could be exchanged.

Palestine solidarity and public water campaigners have joined forces to oppose the agreement.

“Instrument of war”

“Water is used by the Israeli government and state companies like Mekorot as an instrument of war, oppression and power,” Paolo Carsetti from the Italian Forum of Water Movements told The Electronic Intifada. “This is why we actively support this campaign.”

Much of the attention has focused on the city of Rome, which has a majority stake in Acea. A letter signed by groups representing Palestinian farmers, youth and environmentalists argued that the proposed collaboration would flout the city authority’s “legal obligation not to provide recognition or assistance to Israeli violations of international law” (“Palestinians ask Rome not to sign with Mekorot,” Stop the Wall, 6 February 2014).

The cooperation between Acea and Mekorot takes place against the backdrop of an ongoing debate about how water should be managed in Italy.

In a 2011 referendum, 95 percent of voters rejected two laws aimed at privatizing water services (“EPSU welcomes the result of the Italian water referendum,” European Federation of Public Services Unions, 14 June 2011).


Since then, campaigners have continued the struggle to have the referendum results honored as authorities repeatedly sought to circumvent the public’s will.

In January this year, three days of protest were held in Rome to demand that services run by Acea be restored to public ownership. An end to Acea’s partnership with Mekorot were among the demands made by protesters.

As the protests got underway, the Israel-Italy Chamber of Commerce issued an appeal — via Twitter — that the two companies “keep up collaboration.” The tweet suggested that the partnership would improve the “wellbeing” of people in the Middle East, “even Palestinians.”

Natural allies

Mekorot has encountered stiff opposition to its investments in other parts of the world.

Just days after the Israel-Italy summit, Vitens, the largest water provider in the Netherlands, announced it was ceasing cooperation with Mekorot.

The Dutch government has been advising its country’s firms to stop investing in Israeli settlements in the West Bank (“Dutch water company terminates relationship with Mekorot following government advice,” BDS Movement, 13 December 2013).

A campaign has also been set up against Mekorot’s involvement in the construction of a water treatment plant in the Buenos Aires province of Argentina.

“In Argentina, our organization, together with social movements, has been campaigning against Mekorot for three years,” Tilda Rabi, president of the Federation of Argentinian-Palestinian Institutions, told The Electronic Intifada.

“Our struggle is against contributing financially to Israeli apartheid in Palestine and, at the same time, against the sale of our water to multinationals.”

Groups working to defend the universal right to water from the logic of profits and those working to support the Palestinian struggle are natural allies. With the recent cooperation agreement, Mekorot has its foot in the Italian door.

Campaigners in Italy want that door closed. They insist that water services be delivered in a way that doesn’t violate human rights.

Stephanie Westbrook is a US citizen based in Rome, Italy. Her articles have been published on Common Dreams, Counterpunch, The Electronic Intifada, In These Times and Z Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @stephinrome.

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