“The implementation of the disengagement plan in northern Samaria will make it possible for the Palestinians-on the assumption that there is no coordination and agreement with Israel-to pump 50 million cubic meters of water a year for households and agriculture. This will fatally damage the Israeli water system in the Gilboa, Harod and Beit Shean region,” says Dr. Yosef Draizin, director of the planning department in the Water Commission, in an official document that he wrote and gave to Water Commissioner Shimon Tal.

The document, which Dr. Draizin wrote in July 2004, states “all this time the sides have held ongoing contacts on water and sewage, they have coordinated and acted in agreement, in accordance with the chapter on water written in agreements. The practical implementation of disengagement is liable to be reflected in unilateral Palestinian actions, and they may allow themselves to take actions that until now they refrained from doing either willingly or because of Israeli control on the ground.”

Dr. Draizin states, “the Palestinian water plans are far-reaching insofar as utilizing natural water resources, mainly the mountain river basins. They consider this, along with the Jordan River sources, as having the potential of up to 700 million cubic meters a year as a right given them along with control on the ground.” Analyzing the “fatal” damage to the Israeli water system, Draizin writes, “this damage will be seen, directly, in a shortage of 50 million cubic meters a year, along with a significant rise in the salinity of a good many of the wells and springs in the valleys.” Draizin also wrote, “it is important to note that not coming up with alternatives for the water in the region will cause the collapse of the system and the residential/agricultural/tourist/economic fabric. The ramifications of unilateral disengagement, or our consent to conceding our rights to water from the mountain aquifer in all of Judea and Samaria, are even more far reaching.”

Draizin analyzes the various significances to the water system: “The significance on the national level is that it will lose a central and high quality source. We estimate that losing the mountain aquifer can be offset, beyond the direct quantity, by desalinating 50 to 300 million cubic meters. relying so massively on artificial sources constitutes a very significant strategic risk, when it comes to water. We estimate that under present conditions, it will be necessary to desalinate up to 500 million cubic meters to meet Israel’s needs up until 2020.” [.]

The document is based on the assumption that Israel will lose security control of the area that it evacuates in northern Samaria, something that is denied by the Prime Minister’s Bureau. The Prime Minister’s Bureau commented that this warning is not relevant because according to the disengagement plan, Israel will retain security control of the area evacuated in northern Samaria. Water Commissioner Shimon Tal told Ma’ariv yesterday: “Indeed, every cubic meter of water pumped from the Judea and Samaria mountain ridge is at Israel’s expense, either in water or in the salinity of the underground water table. Our position was presented to all the officials.” When he was asked if Israel were not, in fact, about to lose control, he said: “Yes, and if we keep control of the area, then seemingly there will not be a problem.”

This piece ran in Maariv on June 8th, 2005