EU Parliament President Martin Schulz caused outrage when he claimed, in his Knesset speech, that the average Palestinian Authority (PA) Arab receives 17 liters of water per day, as opposed to 70 liters comsumed by the average Israeli. He was quickly challenged by Economics Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), who cited a report by Israel water provider Mekorot and the Water Authority, according to which the average consumption by private residents in PA cities was 60 cubic meters annually, or 165 liters per day – almost ten times what Schulz claimed.
It now turns out that even Arab statistics indicate that Schulz was uttering false statistics.
Maariv revealed Thursday that in a report dated 2011, the PA Water Authority says that every PA resident receives 37.6 cubic meters of water per year on average – or roughly 103 liters per day. This number is about six times greater than the purported statistic regarding PA water usage given by Schulz.
An average Israeli uses 66.8 cubic meters of water annually, or 183 liters per day, according to a 2012 report by the Israeli Water Authority. If Israeli statistic about Israelis are accepted as true along with PA statistics about PA residents, an average PA resident receives about 55% of the water that an average Israeli receives.
Water Authority figures also show that water supply to the PA has increased by 50% since 1995 and is now 180 million cubic meters per year, Maariv added.
These numbers jibe with a statement made by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the Knesset after Schulz caused an uproar with his allegations. "The President of the European Parliament visited Ramallah and heard there data about water usage, according to which Israeli citizens consume more than four times the amount of water per-capita compared to Palestinians," Netanyahu said. “However,” he added, "according to the checks and data which we have received, this number is incorrect and (the differences are) considerably smaller."
The Prime Minister noted that Schulz admitted to not having bothered to check the figures himself, and that apparently, this did not prevent him from attacking Israel anyway.
Netanyahu claimed the incident illustrated the "selective hearing" of European diplomats. "They hear, they don't check, and they hurl accusations," he said.
According to a study by Hebrew University hydrologist Prof. Haim Gvirzman, which is cited by Haaretz, the gaps in water usage reflect differences in standard of living between Israel and the PA. However, Gvirzman also notes that there are meaningful differences in water usage between Israeli communities as well, depending on the average wealth of their residents. For instance – according to statistics from a few years ago, the average resident of Tel Aviv used 323 liters of water per day, while the average Jerusalemite used only 178.