They Thirst for Water and Justice

In the past year I have been to the occupied territories in the West Bank three times. I have spoken with hundreds of Palestinian Muslims and Christians, and four members of Hamas who had been elected. I did NOT meet any terrorists. I did meet human beings who have lived under occupation for forty years. According to International Law, occupation is to be a temporary situation and maintain the status quo. That is NOT the facts on the ground in Israel Palestine.

"During Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's recent visit to Washington, President Bush declared Olmert's "convergence" plan "bold." For Palestinians, however, it is disastrous, because it will annex much of the West Bank's water and fertile land to Israel." Fareed Taamallah, Coordinator for the Palestinian Central Election Commission for the district of Salfit in the West Bank.[June 9, 2006 The Nation online] Orwellian double-speak has become the language of 21st century politicians. Olmert initially spoke about convergence, containment, and now it is re-alignment; a word that is NOT in the dictionary, but the others are and I consulted one in my attempts to understand 21st politicians.

, Convergence: is the act of converging and especially moving toward union or uniformity. Containment: is the act, process, or means of containing and also the policy, process, or result of preventing the expansion of a hostile power or ideology. Contain: to keep within limits: RESTRAIN, CONTROL, CHECK, HALT, ENCLOSE, BOUND Realignment is NOT in Webster's; Realign is and means to re-adjust alliances or working arrangements between or within countries or political parties. Realignment is NOT just Orwellian double-speak; IT IS truthness for the facts on the ground re that there is no alliance or working arrangements between the occupier and the occupied.

Take a drive through the West Bank or consult a map of The Wall and the truth is that the state of Palestine resembles a piece of Swiss cheese. The Peace process is in pieces for many reasons and a two-state solution is impossible at this moment in time. The facts on the ground are many but three will suffice for now: 1. There is one land that three religions claim is Holy to them. Thus, the land belongs to God. 2.

When Israel became a state in 1948 it was contingent on upholding the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights for all the people of that land. America's voice should ring boldest demanding Israel do the right thing and uphold what we American's consider inaienable rights. 3. For those who insist that God made a real estate deal with a particular Simitic people, may they be the one's to also demand that Israel then do what God has required: "And he has already told you what that is man! Do Justice, Be Merciful and walk humbly with your God."-Micah 6:8 Olmert's realignment plan will bring about an Israeli withdrawal from some parts of the West Bank while it strengthens Israeli settlements-which in truth are colonies but spun as neighborhoods- in other parts of the West Bank.

"Under Olmert's plan, Israel aims to keep the two main Palestinian West Bank aquifers: the lower Jordan River basin in the east, and the eastern mountain aquifer, trapped behind Israel's wall in the west. This will force Palestinians to depend on Israel for water, preserving the status quo, a dramatically unjust division of water resources." [IBID] Palestinians collect rainwater in cisterns during the winter but by summer, the cisterns have run dry. Palestinian communities are thus obliged to purchase additional water from expensive and unsanitary tankers.

Children especially suffer from kidney problems thought to be related to drinking stagnant water and are in need of kidney transplants. Inside the West Bank, Israeli settlements receive water to irrigate lush gardens and fill swimming pools. Inside Israel there are still over one hundred Unrecognized Villages that over 100,000 Israeli Arab citizens call home. They pay taxes but receive NO services: NO electricity, NO water, NO schools, NO medical, NO roads and yet THEY PAY TAXES! Not very long ago, immigrants in a New Land rose up against an empire that demanded taxes without representation. International Law demands the occupiers provide for the basic needs of the occupied. "The Palestinian Hydrology Group (PHG), nongovernmental organization, reports that there are .

75 billion cubic meters of total groundwater potential in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are allocated only .25 billion cubic meters of that groundwater.

"The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 100 liters of water per person per day as the minimum quantity for basic consumption, but many Palestinian West Bank villages have considerably less. According to the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem, per capita water consumption for Palestinians in the West Bank is just seventy liters per person per day. In the nearby village of Kafr Ad-Dik (also may be written as Kafr Al-Deek), for instance, the allotment is but twenty-one liters per person per day. In contrast, Israel's per capita use reaches 350 liters per day. "The Oslo II agreement, signed in September 1995, stipulated "the equitable utilization of joint water resources for implementation in and beyond the interim period." But in reality, this never happened.

Instead, according to B'Tselem, a Joint Water Committee (JWC) was established to approve every "new water and sewage project in the West Bank. The JWC is made up of an equal number of representatives of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. All its decisions are made by consensus, and no mechanism is established to settle disputes where a consensus cannot be attained. This method of decision-making means that Israel is able to veto any request by the Palestinian representatives to drill a new well to obtain the additions stipulated in the agreement." [IBID] If allowed to become the new reality, Olmert's Convergence/ Containment/ Realignment policies of the West Bank and its aquifers will preclude all hopes for a viable Palestinian state and must be Internationally challenged. Those who support justice -or even simply the enforcement of basic international humanitarian law - must go beyond raising awareness of the issue to directly confronting those whose acquiescence facilitates current repressive attitudes.

We the People of America are NOT being served when politicians only see terrorists and are blind to the fact that human beings in the land so many of us claim is Holy, in truth have lived under occupation for forty years and centuries of oppression from occupying forces.

Eileen is a retired RN, activist, author, poet, reporter and editor for the WAWA Blog: http://www.wearewideawake.org And is running for House of Representatives District 5 in Florida.

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