European Groups Demand EU Boycott Israel-Sponsored Water Conference

YERUSHALAYIM -

A petition demanding the European Union withdraw from an Israeli-sponsored conference on water technology has been signed by the leaders of approximately 40 European trade unions, environmental and human rights groups, The Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday.

The signatories oppose EU participation in “an event that includes…companies involved in and facilitating violations of international law,” and accused Israel of denying the Palestinian population access to water.

Israel has categorically denied the allegation which has cropped up this summer that it has been discriminating against Palestinians in water distribution. On the contrary, Israeli officials contend that it has been supplying more water to Palestinian areas than it is obligated to do by the 1995 Oslo II Accords.

Regarding acknowledged water shortages in Yehudah and Shomron this year, both Israeli and Palestinian populations have suffered. In response, to the shortage estimated at 10,000 cubic meters in the region, the national water company Mekorot drilled a new well in mid-August that provided an additional 4,500 cubic meters.

The letter was sent to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella. The European Commission is the executive body of the EU.

The event concerned is WATEC Italy 2016: Water Technology and Environmental Control Exhibition and Conference, scheduled for September 21-23 in Venice. It is being organized by the Or Yehuda-based group Kenes Exhibitions, which also puts on the biennial WATEC Israel exhibition in Tel Aviv, which brings together thousands of participants from all over the world.

The organizations backing the letter come from a number of European countries, including Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Scotland and Slovenia, and were joined by two groups from South Africa and Indonesia.

Kenes officials were not available for comment.