Burning tires during riot
Burning tires during riotShlomo Witty
Last Monday both Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh addressed the UN-organized COP26 climate control conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

While Bennett touted the many Israeli start-ups that contribute to improving the world’s environment or to solving other pressing global problems such as a lack of fresh drinking water, the Palestinian PM apparently came with only one goal: defiling Israel’s reputation.

Let’s first take a look at what Bennett meant when he said “As the country with the most start-ups per capita in the world, we must channel our efforts into saving our world."

"Our carbon footprint may be small, but our impact on climate change can be mighty. If we’re going to move the needle, we need to contribute Israel’s most valuable source of energy: the energy and brainpower of our people.”

Israel can indeed make a significant impact on climate change, and other global problems that threaten the wellbeing of billions of people on earth.

There’s a long list of Israeli start-up companies which developed revolutionary innovations that help tackle the world’s most pressing problems. For this analysis, I chose three examples.

-High Hopes Labs is the name of an Israel start-up that has developed balloons with a device that traps carbon dioxide very high in the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide emissions are the main cause of the current climate change and High Hopes Labs says its balloons can ‘catch’ carbon dioxide emissions when they are frozen 50 kilometers above the earth.

The larger balloons that High Hopes Labs is currently developing can remove a ton of carbon dioxide per balloon each day.

Until now the company has tested its system on a small scale, but the Israeli start-up expects to develop a large fleet of bigger balloons within two years.

-Then there is SOLRA, an Israel start-up that has developed a third-generation solar cell, which can harness sunlight and artificial light to produce power.

“The cells themselves can be semi-transparent and can be affixed to buildings to be used as solar windows, not simply as rooftop panels or cells within a solar field,” SOLRA says.

“We are developing the next generation of solar cells based on thin-film materials derived from perovskite, a crystalline substance that efficiently absorbs light. Perovskite-based solar cells have higher cell power conversion efficiencies and a simple fabrication process that allows for a lower cost per watt than prevailing PV solar cells,” SOLRA CEO Avi Voldman told the innovation news site ‘No Camels’.

SOLRA’s system doesn’t need additional batteries to generate enough energy for buildings and cars, for example.

“Offices are usually covered in glass. With our solution, solar panels can be installed instead of regular glass – although the panels themselves are also made of a special kind of glass. Where our technology significantly outstrips silicon-based cells is that they have a narrow band gap, the SOLRA CEO asserted.

-Another Israeli start-up that is helping to prevent further global warming is the company Aleph Farms.

Aleph Farms’ mission is to “feed the world and to preserve the planet,” the company wrote on its website.

The Israeli start-up produces cultivated meat using an initial cell from the bovine product. Aleph Farms then feeds it with a plant-based soup, growing cells into a beef steak in a “very controlled atmosphere.”

“We do not need to kill or slaughter or harm the cow, because it is done in very controlled and sterile conditions, we can eliminate the use of antibiotics, and we can reduce tremendously the ecological impact of producing beef when compared to the standard industrial way of making meat,” Lee Recht, vice president of Aleph Farms, told The Jerusalem Post.

Last year the company conducted a life-cycle analysis that showed its meat-producing method reduces the carbon footprint by a staggering 92 percent and water footprint by 78 percent. The land footprint was reduced by an impressive 95 percent compared to the current way meat is produced.

The food system is currently responsible for 30 percent of the greenhouse gases in the climate and half of them are created by the meat industry, according to Recht.

These are only three examples of how Israeli start-ups are helping to make a major impact on climate change, as Bennett said.

Others are, for example, the company Beewise that has developed a method to save the world’s bee population from extinction, and Watergen that produces atmospheric water devices which make water from the air.

“The company’s solutions are the most effective and economical way to solve the pressing issue of (drinking) water scarcity in any location and at any time, and also enable the elimination of carbon-intensive supply chains and environmentally-harmful plastic waste,” Watergen wrote on its website.

Now compare this to the contribution of the Palestinian Authority as presented by its Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh at the climate control conference in Glasgow.

Solar energy

Shtayyeh claimed that the “Israeli occupation posed the greatest long-term critical threat to the environment in Palestine”, adding that “Israel's politics are systematically destroying the Palestinian environment.”

Shtayyeh went on to claim that “most public institutions, mosques, churches, and schools have started getting their electricity from solar energy and 500 schools in the PA-governed areas are now connected to solar energy, according to the Palestinian PM.

However, as pro-Palestinian Israeli activist Gershon Baskin showed in his most recent column for The Jerusalem Post Shtayyeh was not telling the truth.

Baskin worked for Gigawatt Global, a Dutch company which unsuccessfully attempted to introduce solar power in PA-controlled areas.

After first trying to blame Israel for the failure of the project, Baskin admitted that the Palestinian municipalities, and perhaps the PA itself, were responsible for the total failure of the introduction of solar energy into Palestinian Arab society in Judea and Samaria.

According to Shtayyeh, Israel is responsible for the lack of solar energy projects in the PA because the government in Ramallah "cannot use the whole territory".

The PA Prime Minister went on to blame the “colonialist settlements and their waste” for the PA's significant environmental problems.

What he failed to report, however, is that all Jewish towns and villages in Judea and Samaria are connected to pipelines that bring the waste of these communities to sewage treatment plants, so there is no truth to that claim.

The Israeli news site Tatzpit debunked all other false claims made by Shtayyeh and published the devastating truth about the environmental state of affairs in the territories under PA control.

Pollution and refuse

-All streams that flow in the PA territories are polluted

-Every day tons of garbage are burned outdoors.

-Throughout the PA territories, car-wreck dumps can be seen

-The same is true for tire burning sites that pollute the air.

-In many cases, sewage flows untreated in streams of raw sewage from Palestinian Arab villages and cities in both Judea and Samaria while one of these sewage streams even reached the Dead Sea.

“The PA has zero control over the environment in Judea and Samaria, polluting and suffocating both Israeli and Arab communities,” Eitan Melet, Regavim’s Field Coordinator for Judea and Samaria said, adding that Shtayyeh was lying to the world.

Water supply and wastewater treatment

Lies about water and the environment by Palestinian Authority officials are nothing new and have become common practice since 2008 when the Palestinian Strategy Group drafted a new doctrine aimed at internationalizing the conflict with Israel

In 2010 Israel apparently had had enough of the disinformation emanating from Ramallah and decided to release authentic documents that showed PA officials were constantly lying about water issues.

During a meeting with Colonel Ari Shalev, who then headed the international branch of COGAT, the IDF's civil administration in Judea and Samaria, the undersigned received numerous authentic documents including the minutes of the meetings of the Joint Israeli Palestinian Water Committee (JWC).

Those documents revealed that the PA had lied about the causes of the water shortage in the areas under its rule.

Shalev gave me documents showing that of the 76 applications for water projects submitted by the PA since 2000, 73 had already been approved by 2001.

Despite this, the PA in 2009 complained through Dr. Shaddad Attili, then head of the Palestinian Water Authority, about COGAT's refusal to issue the permits.

Attili used to write letters to the international community in which he repeatedly lied about the real situation regarding to water supply and wastewater treatment.

Also, in 2009, the PA hid behind the specious argument that there were no funds to implement the water projects.

The Israel Ministry of Finance then made an offer that, although the PA receives enormous sums of international aid, Israel would finance the water projects but the PA didn’t respond to the offer.

Shalev’s documents also indicated that extremely poor maintenance of the water infrastructure in the PA-controlled areas was responsible for the loss of 33 percent of the drinking water there.

The PA also did nothing against the then 250 illegally drilled water wells in the areas it controls despite a joint JWC decision to plug those wells.

Shalev's documents formed the basis for a thesis by Swiss scientist Lauro Burkhart who, after conducting extensive research in the PA, and interviews with PA officials and environmental experts came to the conclusion that the Palestinian Authority had politicized the water problem.

About Dr. Attili, Burkat wrote that he conceded to “international pressures that are directed against the Israeli occupation” and indicated that “Attili was under the influence of Islamist groups that do not accept the existence of the State of Israel.”

“His (Attili’s) goal is clearly to fight the Israeli presence in the West Bank and not to solve the issue of water scarcity,” the Swiss scientist concluded.