This workshop was held with the collaboration of Fundación para la Cooperación APY-Solidaridad en Acción, and Fundacio Solidaritat Universitat de Barcelona. Many regional and international specialists spoke about the issue of water in Palestine. Dr. Munir Qazzaz, Vice President for Community Outreach at Birzeit University, welcomed the audience and pointed to the importance of the subject at hand. He indicated that the aim of the workshop was to put forward recommendations designed to help decision makers to take fundamental choices regarding the water sector in Palestine. Dr. Shaddad Attili, Head of the Palestinian Water Authority, gave a brief speech on the role of the Palestinian Water Authority in the Palestinian decision making process. He also shed light on Israeli restrictions imposed on Palestinian’s usage of water. Dr. Atttili likewise made a brief presentation on the issue of water in Palestinian/Israeli negotiations, emphasizing the frustration caused by the Palestinian side in this asymmetrical process. Dr. Asem Khalil, Director of the Ibrahim Abu-Lughod Institute, briefly presented the series of workshops the institute plans to hold beginning with the present one, dealing with the overall theme of the “Political Economy of Dependence and Independence in Palestine.” in this regard, he stressed the key role of water as a factor in achieving Palestinian independence and a flourishing economy.
The second session was entitled “ Palestinian Water Sector: imposed restrictions and available options,” led by two specialists, Jean Selby and Clemens Messerschmid. Selbey, in his intervention entitled “Dependence, Independence and Interdependence in the Palestinian Water Sector,” provided a schematic overview of current and potential future governance arrangements in the Palestinian water sector, by establishing two sets of distinctions: between 'dependence’, 'independence’ and 'interdependence’ in external water relations. He also presented an analysis of present-day realities and options for the future of water in Palestine. Clemens Messerschmid, for his part, gave a talk entitled“ Back to Basics: Policy Options for Palestinian Water Sector Development,” illustrating the current state of the Palestinian water sector, and challenges faced by policy makers since the Oslo Accords. He critically analyzed a variety of current approaches.
In the final session entitled “Local, regional and international aspects of the water sector in Palestine,” Abdelrahman Tamimi and Nidal Mahmoud made presentations. Tamimi’s was entitled “Can a New Regional Water Policy Transfer IWRM from Myth to Reality?” in which he discussed the most important trends, tensions and possible transitions of the Integrated water resources management (IWRM). He noted that analysis of these needs to be based on qualitative and quantitative data. Such data must include major indicators through time (demography, income, unemployment, reform….etc). Dr. Nidal Mahmoud, for his part, analyzed wastewater management and the main challenges facing the Palestinian Water Authority in managing and planning the wastewater sector. In his opinion, despite all Israeli impositions, Palestinians can take a step forward in developing the water sector.
Fuad Bateh, Ziad Mimi, and Rashed Al-Sa’ed commented on the papers, following which a general discussion took place among participants from international, regional, governmental or nongovernmental sectors. Mehrene Larudee concluded the workshop, reviewing the recommendations made. She stressed the importance for Palestinian policy makers to adopt these recommendations. Following the workshop, an exhibition on water in Palestine was commented, which had been set up in the vestibule thanks to the University of Barcelona.