Settlers and Palestinians Alike Spew Sewage in Fragile West Bank

Environment Takes Back Seat to Conflict Over Occupation

Unfit for Consumption: Palestinian children in the West Bank village of Wadi Fuki swim in water considered too polluted to drink.
nathan jeffay
Unfit for Consumption: Palestinian children in the West Bank village of Wadi Fuki swim in water considered too polluted to drink.

By Nathan Jeffay

Published July 04, 2013, issue of July 05, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

An everyday scene for locals in Nahhalin looks strange to outsiders. A woman in modest attire and elegant shoes hitches up her dress as she gets into a car. She doesn’t want it to trail in the sewage that routinely runs down the street — overflow from Nahhalin households that don’t bother to empty their cesspits. Despite international aid to the P.A., outside the big cities, cesspits are the norm— and even when residents do empty them, this just means moving the waste, untreated, to a less populated spot of the West Bank.

In nearby Wadi Fuki, children play in the pools that collect spring water for farmers, but village elder Mohamed Rachad Manasarah acknowledged that because of pollution by the village, this spring water isn’t safe to drink. And when the sewage overflows from Beitar Illit, which stands above this village as well as above Nahhalin, “you can’t breathe because of the smell.”

Moshe Friedman, spokesman for the Beitar Illit municipality, acknowledged that there have been a “number of malfunctions” but said that repairs have been carried out which will prevent the problem from recurring.

The environment of the West Bank doesn’t only have its own sewage — around 75 million cubic meters a year altogether — to deal with. More liquid waste flows from East Jerusalem into the area. There, the Jerusalem municipality, which is responsible for disposing of it, just pumps the sewage out of the city into the surrounding area. Friends of the Earth estimates that 11 million cubic meters flow from Jerusalem and its surroundings, down the Kidron Valley and into the West Bank.

The Jerusalem municipality referred the Forward’s request for a comment on the flow of untreated sewage from Jerusalem to the company that manages its sewage, Hagihon. The company’s spokesman Kuti Fundaminski said: “We have hired a Dutch company to take care of it.” Once the Dutch company, which was engaged around six months ago, has finished its project, all Jerusalem sewage will be treated, he said. Fundaminski said that he did not know the timeline for that.

The Israelis and the Palestinians blame each other for their respective poor performances on sewage. The peace process of the 1990s required each to approve major water-related development in the West Bank. That hasn’t happened. And each group says it is being held back by the other’s obstinacy.

“We have a plan and a budget to take care of all this sewage, but we need Palestinian agreement,” said Shor, who stressed that Israeli plans would deal with sewage from Jerusalem as well as from settlements. But even though Palestinians have approved plans in the past, they say today that they won’t approve any sewage infrastructure for settlements.

“We will not be part of legalizing anything that relates to settlements. We won’t approve any project that will later benefit the settlements,” said Ashraf Khatib, adviser to the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.