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Palestinian Grassroots Anti-apartheid Wall Campaign

The First Week against Mekorot: initiatives against Israeli water apartheid across the globe

  • Activists announce: Portugal free from Mekorot!
  • After Argentinian activists stop 170 million deal with Mekorot, campaigners plan for more
  • Activists start protesting Mekorot delegates at water conferences
  • Dozens of protests and media initiatives across the globe

 

The mobilization for the First Week against Mekorot, Israel’s national water company, has been marked by two victories to be celebrated and a dozen initiatives around the globe - an impressive success for all those that believe people together can win against the power of oppression, colonialism and exploitation of transnational capital.

Mekorot is Israel’s state-owned water company responsible for implementing ‘water apartheid’ on Palestinians, including the international crime of pillage of natural resources in occupied territory, discrimination against the Palestinian people as an ethnic group and vital support for the illegal settlement enterprise. For more see: www.stopmekorot.org

A global network of campaigners involved in Palestine solidarity, defense of the right to water and against privatization of public services has developed in the preparation process. Activists from 12 countries, from India to Paraguay, from Canada tro Argentina, from London to Athens united in joint efforts to go after the interests of Mekorot to spread and finance israeli water apartheid all over the world.

The week was pre-launched on March 12 by a Noise Demo in London protesting the presence of former chair of the board of directors of Israel’s Mekorot at the ‘Water Tech’ conference. Activists made themselves heard in the hotel by blasting out songs and chanting to draw attention and to challenge the ‘water apatheid’ Mekorot is responsible for implementing.

On World Water Day (March 22), a Thunderclap on twitter to raise public awareness about Mekorot was joined by over 250 peopleand had a social reach of over 300 000.

Portugal could finally celebrate a long struggled for victory over Mekorot. Already in 2009, in Lisbon, activists had started the first campaign against Mekorot and reached widespread support, media attention with their demands for EPAL, Lisbon’s water authority to cancel their contract of tecnological cooperation with Mekorot. EPAL refused any dialogue for years. At the end of March, activists gathered in Lisbon's main square to call again for an end to dealings with Mekorot, while MPs denounced the contract in parliament. This time, EPAL finally got public that de facto they had already interrupted their relations with Mekorot in 2010 - when the public campaign against the contract was at its height and three years before the official end of the contract. The coalition of organizations that promoted the campaign against Mekorot issued a statement announcing a Mekorot-free Portugal and stating that

“the interuption of relations with Mekorot strengthen and encourage the efforts of the solidarity movements that work towards the international isolation of Israel because of its policies of ethnic cleansing, occupation and colonization of the Palestinian territories, which are being carried out in violation of international law and legitimacy”.

In Argentina, the Congress of the Trade Union Federation CTA in the capital of Buenos Aires, was dedicated to the International Week against Mekorot in celebration of the recent victory in the country against Mekorot. After years of efforts by the CTA and many other organizations, a 170 million contract between the governorate of Buenos Aires and Mekorot has been suspended. Activists had long since argued that they did not want to finance Israeli apartheid and much less would they allow Mekorot to export its discriminatory and human rights violating methods to Argentina. Yet, the struggle against Mekorot in Argentina continues as further contracts and negotiations are underway.

 

Dozens of protests and awareness raising campaigns were held. In Italy, a ‘water checkpoint’ was presented with a street theatre performance in protest of the cooperation agreement signed between Rome's water company Acea and Mekorot. In Uruguay a seminar organized jointly by environmental, anti-privatization and solidarity activists, raised issues of Water and Palestinian Land issues. In Brazil, activists gathered signatures against cooperation between Brazilian public institutions and Mekorot. Articles, interviews and videos have been published in several different languages.

 

The final event of series of initiatives composing the Week against Mekorot was organized in Paris, with activists from the group BDS France bursting into the convention hall at the luxury Marriott Rive Gauche hotel in Paris, where delegates at the Global Water Summit 2014 were having breakfast.

 

They urged dozens of stunned delegates not to cooperate with the Israeli water company Mekorot that pillages water sources in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Activists resisted attempts to repress them and finally were allowed to address the dleegates with their message: “You can choose whether to do business with criminals or not. That’s your responsibility, think about it.”

While Israel’s Mekorot continues to illegally appropriate itself of more and more Palestinian water, the global campaign to stop international cooperation with Israel’s agent of water apartheid continues to expand.

 

Carlos Latuff
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