Palestinians ask Rome council to boycott Mekorot
Palestinian civil society organizations highlight that the proposed collaboration between Rome's water company ACEA and Mekorot amounts to a violation of the Italian state's legal obligation not to assist Israeli violations of international law and urge the ACEA to follow the principled stand taken by Dutch water company Vitens and ensure that it does not contribute to violations of international law and human rights committed by Mekorot.
Occupied Palestine, 29 January 2013
Dear Azienda Comunale Energia e Ambiente (ACEA) board members, Mayor Ignazio Marino and the Assemblea Capitolina,
Standing in full support of Italian movements for public water, we, the undersigned Palestinian civil society organisations, write to urge ACEA and its shareholders to heed the appeal issued by the Committee Against the ACEA-Mekorot Agreement and to ensure that the proposed cooperation between Mekorot and ACEA does not take place.
The agreement signed between ACEA and Israeli state water company Mekorot states that it aims to facilitate the exchange of experiences. We urge you to consider that the experience and expertise that Mekorot is able to share with ACEA has been developed as result of the pivotal role that it plays in the appropriation of Palestinian water. Any cooperation with Mekorot strengthens its ability to violate international law and human rights.
As Friends of the Earth International noted in a recent statement, Mekorot is the main Israeli body responsible for orchestrating and sustaining Israel’s control and theft of Palestinian water and the denial of the Palestinian right to water. Mekorot illegally appropriates Palestinian water and imposes severe obstacles to Palestinians accessing their own water. Amnesty International has accused Israel of depriving Palestinians of their access to water “as a means of expulsion”.
In the 1950s, Israel built Israel’s national water carrier, which is diverting the Jordan River from the Palestinian West Bank to serve Israeli communities. Since it took over the Palestinian water system in 1982, Mekorot has been cutting off the water supply to entire Palestinian villages and diverting water to illegal Israeli settlements. Today, Palestinian villages that are supplied by Mekorot face pressure to adopt prepaid water meters, making it even more difficult for them to access water.
Mekorot oversees the wilful wholesale destruction and pillage of Palestinian water infrastructure including the demolition of Palestinian water wells, the digging of wells that are so deep that they make Palestinian wells dry up, and the implementation of extortionate water prices for Palestinian communities. Palestinians in Gaza are forced to purchase water from Mekorot due to Israel’s medieval siege and the over-extraction of the Coastal Aquifer itself conducted by Mekorot.
Mekorot’s participation in the displacement of Palestinians is not limited to the occupied Palestinian territories. In the Naqab desert in the south of Israel, Mekorot denying access to water as a means of reinforcing Israeli policies designed to ensure the forced displacement of Palestinian Bedouins.
Dutch public utility company Vitens recently announced that its commitment to international law had led it to decide to to abstain from signing an international cooperation agreement with Mekorot.
According to a 2004 ruling of the International Court of Justice, state bodies have a legal obligation not to provide recognition or assistance to Israeli violations of international law. The proposed collaboration between ACEA and Mekorot amounts to a violation of that legal obligation. We urge you to follow the principled stand taken by your Dutch counterpart and ensure that ACEA does not contribute to violations of international law and human rights committed by Mekorot.
Youth Empowerment Center (YEC - Gaza)
Arab Center for Agricultural Development
PENGON/Friends of the Earth Palestine
Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem Society (ARIJ)
Maan Development Center
Palestinian Hydrology Group
Land research Center
Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees
Union of Agricultural Work Committees
Arab Agronomists Association
Environmental Media Center
Environmental Education Center
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop the Wall)
Palestinian Farmers Union