Guardian gets it wrong on Palestinian water consumption

A Guardian article by Bethan McKernan, conspiratorially headlined “A precious resource: how Israel uses water to control the West Bank“, May 17, copies and pastes from a B’tselem report without the fact checking that could have avoided the following errors.

McKernan claims that Israelis “use three times as much water a day as West Bank Palestinians do”.

However, according to data from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, average per capita household water consumption in the country stood at about 152 liters per capita, per day. While the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics reports that Palestinians in the West Bank consume, on average, 85.6 litres per capita, per day.

So, Israel uses, on average, 1.8 times more water than Palestinians – not “three times” more, as the Guardian reporter alleges.

Further, as a study by the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research shows, there’s a strong association between water consumption and socioeconomic status, such that Jerusalem (a relatively poor city compared to other Israeli communities) uses 110 liters per capita per day, considerably less than the national average and not too much more than the Palestinian consumption.  Given that Israel is more economically prosperous than the Palestinian Authority, we wouldn’t expect parity in water usage.

McKernan also writes that 100 litres a day is “minimum set by the World Health Organization”, which, if true, would mean that Palestinian water consumption (85.6 liters) is less than the minimum requirement.

However, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), “between 50 and 100 litres of water per capita per day are needed to ensure that most basic needs are met and few health concerns arise”, which shows that Palestinian water usage is within WHO’s standard.

We’ve complained to Guardian editors about these errors.

To learn more about such water-related libels directed at Israel, including how bad Palestinian decisions contribute to their water problems, read this in-depth piece by CAMERA’s Alex Safian.

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