Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has stated that solving the water crisis in Palestine is among his top priorities.Perhaps the first thing one notices upon arrival in Israel/Palestine is the distinct difference between the Arab and Jewish homes. Every Palestinian home in the West Bank or Gaza, and many in Israel, has visible water tanks on the roof. Juxtaposed against these water tanks are Jewish homes where such tanks are absent (both Palestinians and Israelis often have hot water tanks on their roofs to save energy by using sunlight to heat potable water).

Many tourists are told that the tanks are part of ‘Arab culture’, but the truth is more nefarious. The Palestinian people do not have access to water.

More than 90 percent of the West Bank and Gaza cannot count on having reliable running water. This may not seem surprising for a semi-arid climate like the Levant where one could assume that water resources are hard to come by. The truth is that water is plentiful in the West Bank, and in Gaza, but the most reliable resources have all been confiscated by Israel for their own use. Palestinian water is pumped to Israel to provide for irrigation, industrial, commercial, and residential use. What is left is then sold back to Palestine at a higher cost than is paid by Israelis. Palestinians receive no profit from this exchange.

On Thursday President Abbas noted that his administration is going to begin working to solve the water crisis, reports Ma’an News. The fact that President Abbas has recognized the water issue is important. Unfortunately, solutions are not possible when Israel refuses to negotiate.

Palestinians needs access to their own water resources. They need a more equitable distribution of water resources between Israel and Palestine. Abbas spoke of the promise of desalinization in Gaza. The reason Gaza requires desalinization is that Israel has locked it away from other natural sources of fresh water.

The Palestinian Authority does not need international donors to provide desalinization plants. It does not need to have water pumped in from neighboring Jordan or Syria. It needs to have proper access to its own water resources, resources that have been illegally confiscated and exploited for Israel.