Allegations regarding water rights and availability are often used as part of the delegitimization campaign against Israel. NGOs, such as EWASH and its partners, present a distorted narrative – ignoring the negotiated agreements (i.e. Oslo Accords) that determine the water arrangements, internal Palestinian dynamics, and other complexities – in order to falsely accuse Israel of violating international law on water rights.
EWASH plays a major role in promoting this issue and the related distortions, which are then repeated by other NGOs, UN bodies, and the media.
(See Bar Ilan University study for an analysis of these false claims.)
- Founded in 2002, the Emergency Water and Sanitation-Hygiene Group (EWASH) is a “coordination body formed after the emergency situation following the Israeli incursion to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which aims to coordinate the work in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene sector to avoid duplication and help ensure optimum results.”
- Members of EWASH include (accessed August 19, 2013): Action Contre la Faim (ACF), Assembly of Cooperation for Peace (ACPP), American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA), Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ), Birzeit U, CARE, Comitato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo dei Popoli (CISP), DanChurchAid, Gruppo Volontariato Civile (GVC), House of Water and Environment, Near East Council of Churches-Jerusalem, Lifesource, Ma’an Development Center, Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA), OCHA, UNICEF, UNRWA, UNDP, Oxfam, Polish Humanitarian Action (PHA), Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC), Palestinian Wastewater Engineers Group, PENGON, Palestinian Hydrology Group, Premier Urgence, Save the Children, Swedish Cooperative Center (SCC), and Welfare Association.
- Ziyaad Lunat, EWASH advocacy coordinator, is a radical Palestinian activist. In 2010, he coordinated the Gaza Freedom March, arranged in coordination with the Hamas regime in Gaza, which encouraged international activists to march on Israel’s borders in protest of the “illegal blockade.” He is a member of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, as well as a frequent contributor to Electronic Intifada, a major online media outlet devoted to demonizing Israel.
- UNICEF, whose logo appears on multiple “cluster situation reports,” and Oxfam Great Britain appear to actively participate in the coordination and running of EWASH. Employees from both organizations are listed as contacts on a large number of EWASH situation reports.
- Although not listed as an official member of EWASH, Al-Haq, a Palestinian NGO leading demonization campaigns against Israel, is consistently featured in EWASH activities.
- In September 2011, EWASH and Al-Haq submitted a joint report to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The submission, titled “Israel’s violations of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights with regard to the human rights to water and sanitation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” demonizes Israel with the tendentious claim that “the lack of water for Palestinians is the result of deliberate acts and omissions of Israel.”
- In the “Fact Sheets by Other Organizations” section of the website, five come from Al-Haq.
- An interactive map from Al-Haq is prominently displayed on the EWASH homepage.
- The EWASH website claims: “There is no core funding for EWASH, therefore all members are encouraged to raise funds or resources in kind for the EWASH expenses as well as activities to be implemented by the EWASH as a coordination body. Grants from the donors for the functioning of EWASH as a coordinating body could be routed through the member agencies, unless EWASH assumes a legal structure of its own.”
Selected Demonization Activities
- In its mission statement, EWASH states its dedication to “facilitate the advocacy, coordination and knowledge sharing among local and international non-governmental organizations, UN agencies and governmental bodies active in the Water and Sanitation sector in the oPt, both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”
- On July 31, 2013 EWASH published a report titled “Bedouins in the West Bank: Settler attacks, denial of water (International Solidarity Movement),” claiming that “Israel’s national water company, Mekorot holds a monopoly over the water supplies providing almost half the water consumed by Palestinian communities effected, making a profit off the water shortages that are a result of the Israeli occupation.”
- EWASH cooperates with Al-Haq (see above) and the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) on an interactive map to “monitor Israeli demolitions of WASH infrastructure in the West Bank in real time.” EAPPI frequently uses inflammatory and demonizing rhetoric against Israel and engages in boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns. (See NGO Monitor Report, BDS in the Pews, July 2012 for more information).
- EWASH runs the Thirsting for Justice campaign, which focuses on “mobilizing European citizens to demand that their governments pressure Israel to change its policies and practices in order to comply with international law and respect Palestinians’ human rights.” The campaign includes articles that demonize Israel, such as “Silent Nakba: Israel’s Slow Displacement of Palestinian Farmers” (August 20, 2013).
- In July 2010, EWASH published a presentation by Dr. Mark Zeitoun, Power and Water in the Middle East: The Hidden Politics of the Palestinian-Israeli Water Conflict, which accuses Israel of exercising excessive control over water sources in order to forego sacrificing their own supply for the sake of the Palestinians. The presentation also describes Israel’s water strategy as “domination dressed up as cooperation.”