water

Drinking water for China, Israeli style

Friday, May 27th, 2011

As reported in Israel 21c

Normally, “green” and “desalination” are two words that don’t go together. Desalination is a process that takes brackish inland or sea water and makes it drinkable.

This can be a lifesaver in countries with limited or no access to fresh water, such as Saudi Arabia or Jordan, but the processes involved gobble massive amounts of energy and produce an unfavorable amount of salt discharge, causing environmentalists to argue that desalination is not a sustainable solution to meet the world’s water needs — especially in countries that can’t afford to power the desalination plants.

Now, the Israeli desalination company IDE Technologies has introduced a greener way to pull salt from the world’s water. Putting it to the test in China, the Israeli company has created a win-win solution for the environmentally conscious Chinese: using runoff steam from a power plant to help run the desalination plant. The result is water for the power plant, drinking water for the community and salt to sell.

The UK trade magazine Global Water Intelligence is so impressed by the Israeli desalination technology, that in April it named IDE as the “2010 desalination company of the year.”

Making what it called “the greatest overall contribution to the desalination industry during 2010” the magazine praised IDE for its “unique competitive position in the global desalination arena during 2010, winning a significant portion of the Chinese desalination business and competing strongly for tenders in the Americas, Southern Europe and elsewhere in Asia.”

For its innovation, the magazine put IDE’s MED desalination plant China on its short list, as a testament to the company’s leadership and ability to take on new environmental challenges and specifications.

Runs on 50 percent less power

Created in Tianjin, China, the Israeli-built IDE MED desalination plant is the country’s largest and greenest one yet, says IDE’s CEO, Avshalom Felber. Using a process called multi-effect distillation (MED), the plant is claimed to be 50 percent more energy efficient than any other thermal desalination plant today.

In IDE MED, salt water from the sea is heated with steam and then circulated through an evaporator to create an end result of fresh water and salt.

The green element in the design is that the steam used to heat the water before the evaporation process comes from a nearby power plant, making sure that some wasted energy is put to good use.

According to Felber: “The first phase of the Tianjin project is already operating for the last year or so, at 100,000 cubic meters of water per day. Currently we are in the execution process of Phase II, for another 100,000 cubic meters. This is by far the largest desalination plant in China.”

The plant consists of four 25,000-cubic-meter units, and an additional four are underway.

read more here

Israel Water Technology Delegation to Brisbane

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Australian natural resources boom attracts foreign investment from Israel, and leads to a trade delegation visiting Brisbane to explore opportunities for Israeli Water Technology in the mining and coal seam gas industries.

Since its founding, Israel has been coping with water scarcity and has been treating the subject as a national priority. The country has been constantly developing novel and efficient water and energy technologies, which can benefit the world as it is increasingly dealing with water and energy scarcity concerns. From the comprehensive management of water resources and water-saving irrigation technology to cost-saving purification, reclamation and desalination methods as well as water security and water treatment solutions, Israel is leading the world in producing water technology for sustainable development.

Australia is a dry continent with competition for scarce water resources.  Water is therefore a key business risk for top companies. From a broad Australian perspective, drought, over-allocation, inefficient water supply (loss driven) and climate change has resulted in a strong focus by many leading Australian companies on their water management solutions, and practical ways to address these critical issues. In addition, the treatment of waste water in the mining and Coal Seam Gas industries is of vital importance given the increased environmental issues and regulations facing Australian companies.

There are many challenges facing CSG & mining companies in Australia such as water treatment,  protecting ground and surface water, power-efficient desalination plants, linking power and water efficiencies to reduce greenhouse gas footprints, and economic modeling of value/cost of water management.

With Australia’s current resources boom and Israel being one of the world leaders in clean tech and water technology, there is a clear synergy between these sectors and vast opportunities for collaboration between the two countries.

The Israel Trade Commission hosted a delegation of 12 Israeli Water Technology Companies in Brisbane from 17th to 19th May 2011 to meet with the mining and coal seam gas (CSG) industries in Queensland. The purpose of the delegation was to introduce new and world leading water technologies to the booming Queensland natural resources industry and to explore investment opportunity in QLD. The Israel Trade Commission  also hosted an Industry seminar as well as exhibiting at the Austmine Expo and Conference. The delegation was supported by Trade and Investment Queensland, the Australian Israel Chamber of Commerce (AICC) and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ).

TaKaDu Enters Latin America with First Water Infrastructure Monitoring Deployment at Aguas de Antofagasta in Chile

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Aguas de Antofagasta, one of Chile’s leading water utilities, expects improvement in efficiency and quality of service as a result of the implementation

 TaKaDu, a Water Infrastructure Monitoring pioneer, today announced its first commercial deployment in the Latin American market, at Aguas de Antofagasta, Chile.

Aguas de Antofagasta supplies water to the city of Antofagasta and the copper mines that surround it, which are the core of the local economy. The Antofagasta region has a desert climate, with minimal rainfall. The mining industry relies on water, and water scarcity in the region is a challenge. As a result, the utility desalinates most of its water supplies.

“At Aguas de Antofagasta, we believe that investing in innovation and technology can make a positive impact on the water supply and economy of the region”, said Mr. Marco Kutulas Peet, General Manager of Aguas de Antofagasta. “We decided to use TaKaDu’s Water Infrastructure Monitoring as a result of the potential water and energy savings associated with it. Reducing water loss, operating more efficiently and improving quality of service and water continuity are key goals for us and TaKaDu can help us achieve them. Better management of the network can reduce our energy costs, and help us meet greater water demand while ensuring optimal use of our water.”

Water Infrastructure Monitoring helps water utilities worldwide take control of their networks by giving them real-time knowledge and alerts about leaks and other problems in their water distribution infrastructure. It uses existing meter and sensor readings and uses advanced algorithms to detect, alert and accurately identify network events, such as leaks, bursts and other inefficiencies. Its Software-as-a-Service delivery model makes it quick to set up and easy to use. It requires no changes to existing equipment or upfront investment.

“Aguas de Antofagasta is an innovative utility that is keen on acheiving savings and sustainability through the use of our remote service throughout its entire network”, said Amir Peleg, Founder and CEO of TaKaDu. “As our first customer in Latin America we plan on working closely with Aguas de Antofagasta to realize the full benefits of saving water and energy through smart water network technologies.”

TaKaDu and a subsidiary of Aguas de Antofagasta called Atacama Water & Technology (AWT), are also exploring a potential partnership to promote and expand the use of Water Infrastructure Monitoring in Latin America.

About Aguas de Antofagasta S.A.

Aguas de Antofagasta S.A. engages in production and distribution of water. The company also operates the biggest desalination plant in Latin America, and provides collection, treatment, and disposal of wastewater. The company is based in the city of Antofagasta (north of Chile), in one of the dryest deserts, called Atacama. Aguas de Antofagasta S.A. operates as subsidiary of Antofagasta plc. For more information check http://www.aguasantofagasta.cl/ or http://www.antofagasta.co.uk

About TaKaDu

TaKaDu is the global leader in Water Infrastructure Monitoring, providing a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution for water utilities. TaKaDu’s solution detects, alerts and provides real-time insight on leaks, bursts, network breaches and other network inefficiencies. The solution is based on complex algorithms which analyze existing online data from meters within the network (flow, pressure, etc) and external data (weather, holidays, etc). TaKaDu’s patented technology is easy to deploy, requiring no network changes, no additional devices and no capital expenditure. The service is in use by leading water utilities worldwide. TaKaDu is a founding member of SWAN (Smart Water Network forum). The company has won several industry awards, including the prestigious Technology Pioneer 2011 award from the World Economic Forum.

Israel Water Technology for Mining and CSG – Delegates Information

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

The Israel Trade Commission recently hosted a delegation of  Israeli water technology companies to Brisbane to explore opportunities in the mining and coal seam gas companies. The delegation met with major exploration and engineering companies involved in these sectors, as well as hosting a Breakfast seminar attended by over 100 people.

To find out more about NewTech, Israels Water Technology project, CLICK HERE and HERE

Please click on the companies names below to see more information on each of  them and to view their Powerpoint Presentations:

Click here to view the Full Profile Catalogue

Welcome to Israel’s summer festival season

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Once the winter rains end, Israel’s cities come alive with festivals showcasing everything from opera and puppets to beer and kites

You can find some sort of festival every month of the year in Israel, but May to September, when the sun shines endlessly, and the temperature hots up, is prime festival season, with special events for all ages and interests.

MAY

Taste of Tel Aviv
Every May top Israeli restaurants and wineries offer their best dishes and drinks at discount prices in Hayarkon Park for a three-day event called Ta’am Ha’ir (taste of the city). This year’s event will be the 16th annual culinary fair, which attracts about 400,000 visitors every year, making it one of the largest food festivals in the world, competing easily in numbers with similar fairs held in New York, Boston, and Los Angeles.

Docaviv International Documentary Film Festival, May 12-21
Docaviv, now in its 13th year, showcases contemporary Israeli and international documentaries at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and other Tel Aviv venues. There are student competitions for budding cinematographers; free outdoor screenings; and workshops with filmmakers.

International Spring Festival, May 14-21
Now in its 12th year, this annual festival offers live shows from Israel and countries such as France, Poland and Brazil. Based in the Rishon-LeZion Performing Arts Center, some of the performances take place in the neighboring cities of Ashdod, Herzliya, Kiryat Haim, Modi’in and Petach-Tikva.

Jerusalem Season of Culture, May 18-July 22
An initiative of the Schusterman Foundation-Israel, this ambitious cultural project is modeled on other prominent international cultural festivals, and highlights Jerusalem’s flourishing arts scene. Among the scheduled events are performances by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company at the Israel Museum; evening cultural performances and celebrations at the Machane Yehuda Market; the unveiling of a commissioned work by video artist Kutiman; the Jewish Theater of Sweden’s production of Different Trains; and a performance by soprano Renee Fleming with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Zubin Mehta.

Israel Festival, May 23-June 18
To mark the 50th anniversary of the Israel Festival, which was founded in the ancient Roman theater in Caesarea and moved to Jerusalem in 1982, 50 outstanding performances in music, dance and theatre will be offered. Some of the performers are the Batsheva Dance Company, Helsinki Baroque Orchestra, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Ahinoam Nini and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. Also featured will be premieres of Israeli works and tributes to leading Israeli artists; street theater; children’s shows; and a nightly jazz club.

Houses from Within, May 20-21
Just some of the 51 sites on this much-anticipated Tel Aviv tour include Haggai Yuden’s Music Studio with its 150-year-old white piano; Mosaic House, formerly a private home with mosaics depicting Israeli song stars, politicians and international public figures decorating the floor, walls and ceiling; the Root Research Laboratory at Tel Aviv University’s Botanical Gardens; the roof of 20 Alfassi Street, made of recycled raw materials; designer Gal Florsheim’s childhood home near the Habima Theater; the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Firehouse; and the private residence of David and Paula Ben Gurion.

JUNE

White Wine Festival, June 1-2
Taking place at the Herzliya Marina, this festival promotes white wine culture in Israel with Israeli and international white wine for tasting and for sale, as well as wine accessories, books, cheese, olive oil and more.

The Israeli Opera Festival, June 1-9
The Israeli Opera will be accompanied by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra for Verdi’s Jerusalem at Sultan’s Pool and by Italy’s Arena di Verona Orchestra for Verdi’s Messa da Requiem at Masada; and by the Rishon LeZion Symphony Orchestra for Aida featuring Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli at Masada. Other venues will include Jerusalem’s Tower of David Museum and the churches of St. Andrew’s, Augusta Victoria, Lutheran (Redeemer), Dormition Abbey, Vincent de Paul and the Austrian Hospice.

Abu Ghosh Music Festival, June 7-8
This leading Israeli vocal music festival has been staged twice a year since 1992 in two churches: the 12th century Crusader-Benedictine Church in the heart of the village, and the Kiryat Ye’arim Church on a hill overlooking this mostly Arab Jerusalem suburb. This year’s 10 offerings range from the Avishai Cohen String Quartet and the Tel-Aviv Chamber Choir to the Ra’anana Symphonette and the Israel Stage Orchestra. There will be classical, gypsy, mandolin and gospel music.

Jerusalem Light Festival, June 15-22
The architecture of the capital’s Old City will be dramatically lit up in addition to light statues, installations, performances and museum artwork. The Light Festival brings to Israel well-known light sculptors and light designers from around the world, who exhibit their creations throughout the streets and alleys of the Old City, in major tourist sites and public spaces.

A light circus is planned at Gan Habonim

Tel Aviv LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual) Film Festival, June 11-18
This annual event at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and the Tel Aviv LGBT Community Center offers public screenings of films with no Israeli distribution, meetings with local and foreign filmmakers, panel discussions and special events. Established in 2006, the festival also encourages original Israeli work with a domestic film competition.

White Night International Festival, June 30
For the fourth year in a row, Tel Aviv restaurants will stay open all night offering special deals. Late-night theatre shows, music, art and special nighttime tours of the city are available as well. The main event will be the International Marathon for Jazz and Avant-garde Music in the Einav Culture Center above Rabin Square.

JULY

Music Festival on the Water, July-August
Every Tuesday evening in July and August at the Herzliya Marina square on the Mediterranean, the public is welcome to attend live performances by local and international artists in genres from opera, pop and jazz to romantic, Greek and other ethnic styles.

Jerusalem Film Festival, July 7-16
Between 150 and 200 films are screened yearly during this event at the Cinemateque and Sultan’s Pool amphitheater, showcasing the best of international feature films, documentary films, and movies and shorts dealing with issues of Jewish identity and history, freedom and human rights. This year, in addition to existing cinematic competitions, there will be an international competition for short animation and sci-fi films and other artworks depicting Jerusalem in 2111.

Karmiel Dance Festival, July 12-14
About 5,000 dancers from Israel and abroad will take part in 120 events and performances at this 10th annual festival, which takes place in Karmiel, a central Galilee town between Acco and Safed. Activities, a bazaar and more than 250,000 anticipated visitors and guests are expected. A folk-dancing course in English is planned from July 4-15.

International Puppet Theater and Film Festival, July 21-23, 28-30
The Israel Puppet Center in Holon, Israel’s “Children’s City,” has been hosting this festival since 1995. In addition to about 30 performances by resident and international artists, there will be conferences, exhibitions, and an opening street procession, workshops for professionals and amateurs; a conference on the therapeutic use of puppets; and exhibitions at the museum and galleries including a special “Puppetry on the Screen” display.

AUGUST

Israeli Wine-Tasting Festival, August 14-19
Sample wines from Israel’s leading wineries in the Israel Museum’s Billy Rose Art Garden, with soft jazz playing in the background. A wine glass comes with each admission ticket.

International Festival of Puppet Theater, August 14-19
At The Train Theater and other Jerusalem theatres, local and international artists showcase the best in the field of puppetry at this annual event, now in its 20th year. The program is designed mainly for children and families, but includes performances for adults as well. There will be about 30 different productions with approximately 90 shows, including talent from Germany, Belgium, Italy, Bulgaria, The Netherlands, Peru, the United States and the Czech Republic.

International Klezmer Festival, August 15-17
Held in Safed, the kabbalistic heart of the Galilee, the Klezmer Festival showcases 45 artists performing “Jewish soul music” – among them are Sinai Tor, Simply Tsfat, Aaron Razel, the Persian Jerusalem Orchestra and Vilna Klezmer – and also features a huge outdoor arts-and-crafts sale, tours and children’s events. The music is presented on eight stages and in the ancient cobbled alleyways of the city.

Jerusalem Beer Festival, August 18-19
Celebrating its sixth year at Jerusalem’s historic Old Train Station, the Jerusalem Beer Festival is a magnet for young adults eager to sample more than 100 brands from all over the world — mainstream, boutique and local. There will be live beer production process demonstrations, food stands and nightly shows by Israel’s leading bands to round out the experience.

Kite-Flying Festival, August 23
Colorful shapes waft over the Israel Museum every year after being launched from the Billy Rose Art Garden. Children and their parents can take part in kite-building workshops and meetings with professional kite-flyers.

Red Sea Jazz Festival, August 22-25
This international jazz festival at Eilat Harbor was established in 1987. There are eight to nine concerts per evening, six clinics with guest artists and nightly jam sessions. Styles range from New Orleans to Latin jazz. Every evening at 7pm, there is an open concert featuring upcoming young Israeli jazz groups. Concerts are held in three venues: the Club, featuring 1,000 seats around tables serving food and beverage; the Hall, with 2,000 regular seats; and the Arena, with 4,000 seats, some overlooking the Red Sea

SEPTEMBER

Tel Aviv Fashion Market and T:Market
Both of these month-long Tel Aviv festivals attract thousands of fashionistas, the first at the Israel Trade Fairs Center and the second at the Barzilay Club. Featured are the latest offerings from Israel’s hottest fashion designers as well as last season’s fashions at reduced prices.

Jerusalem International Chamber Music Festival, September 3-14
Taking place annually at the Jerusalem YMCA, this year’s program celebrates Pierre Boulez’s emblematic works, Brahms, Schumann, Chopin and Wolf. There will be a world premiere of a work by Matan Porat, a veteran member of the festival family. The founding artistic director is Elena Bashkirova, wife of the composer Daniel Barenboim.

Loving Art, Making Art, September 8-10
Tel Aviv’s galleries, museums, exhibitions spaces and artist studios throw open their doors all day and night for free browsing during this annual kick-start to the art exhibition season. Specially commissioned works dot the city streets with color and sound.

Dona Gracia Festival, September 12-15
Dona Gracia, a successful European Jewish merchant, was the richest woman in the 16th century world. With the blessing of the Turkish Sultan, Dona Gracia worked for the establishment of a Jewish state in Tiberias and paid to build the walls of this lakeside Galilee city, but her sudden death at the age of 59 ended her Zionist initiative. Last year, Tiberias launched an annual festival in her memory at the Dona Gracia House Museum

JULY

Music Festival on the Water, July-August
Every Tuesday evening in July and August at the Herzliya Marina square on the Mediterranean, the public is welcome to attend live performances by local and international artists in genres from opera, pop and jazz to romantic, Greek and other ethnic styles.

Jerusalem Film Festival, July 7-16
Between 150 and 200 films are screened yearly during this event at the Cinemateque and Sultan’s Pool amphitheater, showcasing the best of international feature films, documentary films, and movies and shorts dealing with issues of Jewish identity and history, freedom and human rights. This year, in addition to existing cinematic competitions, there will be an international competition for short animation and sci-fi films and other artworks depicting Jerusalem in 2111.

Karmiel Dance Festival, July 12-14
About 5,000 dancers from Israel and abroad will take part in 120 events and performances at this 10th annual festival, which takes place in Karmiel, a central Galilee town between Acco and Safed. Activities, a bazaar and more than 250,000 anticipated visitors and guests are expected. A folk-dancing course in English is planned from July 4-15.

International Puppet Theater and Film Festival, July 21-23, 28-30
The Israel Puppet Center in Holon, Israel’s “Children’s City,” has been hosting this festival since 1995. In addition to about 30 performances by resident and international artists, there will be conferences, exhibitions, and an opening street procession, workshops for professionals and amateurs; a conference on the therapeutic use of puppets; and exhibitions at the museum and galleries including a special “Puppetry on the Screen” display.

AUGUST

Israeli Wine-Tasting Festival, August 14-19
Sample wines from Israel’s leading wineries in the Israel Museum’s Billy Rose Art Garden, with soft jazz playing in the background. A wine glass comes with each admission ticket.

International Festival of Puppet Theater, August 14-19
At The Train Theater and other Jerusalem theatres, local and international artists showcase the best in the field of puppetry at this annual event, now in its 20th year. The program is designed mainly for children and families, but includes performances for adults as well. There will be about 30 different productions with approximately 90 shows, including talent from Germany, Belgium, Italy, Bulgaria, The Netherlands, Peru, the United States and the Czech Republic.

International Klezmer Festival, August 15-17
Held in Safed, the kabbalistic heart of the Galilee, the Klezmer Festival showcases 45 artists performing “Jewish soul music” – among them are Sinai Tor, Simply Tsfat, Aaron Razel, the Persian Jerusalem Orchestra and Vilna Klezmer – and also features a huge outdoor arts-and-crafts sale, tours and children’s events. The music is presented on eight stages and in the ancient cobbled alleyways of the city.

Jerusalem Beer Festival, August 18-19
Celebrating its sixth year at Jerusalem’s historic Old Train Station, the Jerusalem Beer Festival is a magnet for young adults eager to sample more than 100 brands from all over the world — mainstream, boutique and local. There will be live beer production process demonstrations, food stands and nightly shows by Israel’s leading bands to round out the experience.

Kite-Flying Festival, August 23
Colorful shapes waft over the Israel Museum every year after being launched from the Billy Rose Art Garden. Children and their parents can take part in kite-building workshops and meetings with professional kite-flyers.

Red Sea Jazz Festival, August 22-25
This international jazz festival at Eilat Harbor was established in 1987. There are eight to nine concerts per evening, six clinics with guest artists and nightly jam sessions. Styles range from New Orleans to Latin jazz. Every evening at 7pm, there is an open concert featuring upcoming young Israeli jazz groups. Concerts are held in three venues: the Club, featuring 1,000 seats around tables serving food and beverage; the Hall, with 2,000 regular seats; and the Arena, with 4,000 seats, some overlooking the Red Sea.

SEPTEMBER

Tel Aviv Fashion Market and T:Market
Both of these month-long Tel Aviv festivals attract thousands of fashionistas, the first at the Israel Trade Fairs Center and the second at the Barzilay Club. Featured are the latest offerings from Israel’s hottest fashion designers as well as last season’s fashions at reduced prices.

Jerusalem International Chamber Music Festival, September 3-14
Taking place annually at the Jerusalem YMCA, this year’s program celebrates Pierre Boulez’s emblematic works, Brahms, Schumann, Chopin and Wolf. There will be a world premiere of a work by Matan Porat, a veteran member of the festival family. The founding artistic director is Elena Bashkirova, wife of the composer Daniel Barenboim.

Loving Art, Making Art, September 8-10
Tel Aviv’s galleries, museums, exhibitions spaces and artist studios throw open their doors all day and night for free browsing during this annual kick-start to the art exhibition season. Specially commissioned works dot the city streets with color and sound.

Dona Gracia Festival, September 12-15
Dona Gracia, a successful European Jewish merchant, was the richest woman in the 16th century world. With the blessing of the Turkish Sultan, Dona Gracia worked for the establishment of a Jewish state in Tiberias and paid to build the walls of this lakeside Galilee city, but her sudden death at the age of 59 ended her Zionist initiative. Last year, Tiberias launched an annual festival in her memory at the Dona Gracia House Museum.  

By Avigayil Kadesh , MFA Newsletter

ISRAEL PARTNERS IN 16% OF EUREKA’S 89 APPROVED INNOVATIVE PROJECTS

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

EUREKA’s representatives from 40 countries are investing 134 million euros ($194 million) in 89 initiatives across Europe, 14 of which have Israeli partners.

Israel has been one of the five most active members in EUREKA, the leading industrial R&D initiative in Europe, boasting the same number of projects as much bigger [EU] countries. In 2011, Israel became the first non-European state to head the EUREKA Network. Since the start of Israel’s chairmanship year, nearly 200 EUREKA projects have been approved, totaling more than 280 million euros ($405 million) of private and public investment.

The approved R&D projects cover a variety of areas, including renewable energy, agrofood technology, biotechnology, physical and exact sciences, IT and electronics, industrial manufacturing, and more. EUREKA initiatives look to meet challenges such as climate change, energy security, and limited water resources.

ISRAELS MEKOROT WATER COMPANY TO DEVELOP UGANDAN WATER INFRASTRUCTURES

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Mekorot National Water Company will develop Uganda’s water infrastructures under an agreement signed with the government-owned National Water and Sewerage Corporation. Mekorot will ultimately build 11 dams and reservoirs to supply water to two million residents. 

Mekorot will first build projects in Karamoja district in Uganda’s arid northeast, but hopes to expand its work throughout the country and to include the development of sewage treatment plants.

Mekorot is one of Israel’s many innovative companies in the field of water technologies to participate in WATEC 2011, Israel’s bi-annual water event to be held on November 9-11 (www.watec-israel.com).

Idan Ofer leads peace delegation to Ramallah

Friday, May 6th, 2011

As reported in Globes.co.il: The former Israel Corp. chairman met PA President Mahmoud Abbas who conveyed a message to the Israeli government.

Idan Ofer, the former chairman of Israel Corporation met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu-Mazen) at the Mukataa in Ramallah today, at Abbas’s request. Ofer is part of a delegation of Israel Initiates (“Yisrael Yozemet”), an organization set up to promote regional peace.The meeting follows Abbas’s recent statement that he was prepared to forego asking the UN General Assembly to recognize a Palestinian state in September if peace talks with Israel are resumed on the basis of an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines.

Ofer was joined by former IDF chief of staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, Former director of the Mossad Danny Yatom, and NICE Systems Ltd.  CEO Koby Huberman, Adina Bar Shalom, the daughter of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, former Ministry of Foreign Affairs director general Dr. Alon Liel, Prof. Aliza Shenhar, and Prof. Eva Berger.

The Palestinian side was represented by, besides Abbas, chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, and Jibril Rajoub. Yatom pointed out during the meeting that whereas Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to meet the Israel Initiates group, Mahmoud Abbas had invited them of his own accord.

Abbas took advantage of the meeting to convey a message to Netanyahu, who called on him yesterday to choose between Hamas and Israel. “Hamas is part of the Palestinian people,” Abbas said, “Whether you, Netanyahu, agree with them or not, they are part of our people, and you, Netanyahu, are our partner. We will not choose, we want both.” Abbas added that the one who needed to make a choice was Netanyahu. “You, Netanyahu, have to choose between settlements and peace. We are not asking to move the settlements, but to freeze Israel’s activity there and to give negotiations a chance.”

The meeting was arranged several days ago, after Abbas’s recent statement that he was ready to forego an approach to the UN in September if diplomatic negotiations resumed on the basis of Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines. However, yesterday evening, after the announcement of the reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, which caught Israel by surprise, the Israel Initiates people feared that the meeting might be cancelled. After a few hours of uncertainty on the Israeli side, Abbas’s staff confirmed that it would take place as planned. The possibility of cancelling the meeting also occurred to the Israeli group. Yatom said he felt doubts, but explained that Israeli had to talk with the unified government, and not just with one faction.

“We hope that this initiative, together with the Arab initiative, will give impetus to the peace process and bring about a happy ending and the setting up of two states for two peoples, with Palestine an independent state existing alongside Israel,” Abbas told the Israeli Initiates group. “The solution is negotiations, we have no other possibility, but if that fails to come about, there will be no choice, and therefore we decided to appeal to the UN. The UN is a neutral organization. We are not taking action alone, but are seeking the world’s help in finding a solution. If, tomorrow, there are genuine, serious negotiations, there will be no need for a UN resolution on founding a Palestinian state. If there is an alternative, we will prefer it.”

In an attempt to dispel the uncertainty, Abbas declared that, despite the setting up of the joint government, there would be no change in policy. “The government was formed with the aim of making progress on two matters: the rehabilitation of Gaza, and preparations for elections the authority, the parliament, and the presidency.” Referring to Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held in captivity in Gaza, Abbas added “All political matters remain under my authority, and there will be no change in my policy. We believe in peace.” Abbas expressed sympathy for Shalit’s plight, but called on the Israeli government to free some of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

Idan Ofer said in his opening remarks that he decided to join the initiative because he believed in an economic peace that would lead to fewer wars in the future. “Every time I come to the West Bank, I see the rapid development, the enthusiasm of the Palestinian people to do more. It’s no secret that big money is being poured in by Qatar and other countries to build up the West Bank,” he said.

Ofer said Israel could be involved in many joint initiatives with the Palestinians. “We can be involved in many projects here, in water, gas, and industry. As a businessman, I do everything possible to improve relations between my companies and Palestinian companies.” He told how Israel Corporation, which he controls, is the only Israeli company with a bank account in Ramallah. “I feel like a pioneer,” he said.

Ofer spoke about a joint project he promoted with Palestinian business people in which he invited 30 Palestinian students for a one-day visit to Israel. “These 21-year olds had never seen the sea, and had never been in Israel. At the end of the day they smiled and said they had seen another side of Israel, and not what they had imagined from the stories they heard,” Ofer related proudly.

The Israel Initiates organization is calling on the Israeli government to initiate measures that will ensure Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state, its security and prosperity and normal relations with the Arab and Islamic world, rather than merely react to events. More than 70 Israeli economic, defense, education, communications, diplomatic, and educational leaders have signed the initiative.

In early April, Ofer held a press conference to present the plan. He warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that unless Israel acted to prevent a unilateral declaration of independence by Palestine at the UN, Israeli business and companies would be severely harmed. “People don’t see the economic side of the catastrophe that is bearing down on us,” Ofer said at a press conference today in Tel Aviv.

Pipe dreams

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

As reported in The Economist: ANY industry that mislays 25-30% of its product in the process of delivering it might reasonably be thought to have a problem. Yet that, according to the World Bank, is the case for the world’s water companies. Though water is cheap, it is not free. According to a report published by the Bank in 2006, leaks even then were costing $14 billion a year. But to plug a leak you have to find it. Water mains are hard to inspect, particularly if they are underground. Many are old and thus decrepit. And outright theft is not unheard of, as the poor seek to fill their drinking vessels and the rich their swimming pools. An effective way of detecting leaks, both accidental and deliberate, would therefore be welcome.

TaKaDu, a firm based near Tel Aviv, thinks it has one. The problem, in the view of its founder, Amir Peleg, is not a lack of data per se, but a lack of analysis. If anything, water companies—at least, those in the rich world—have too much information. A typical firm’s network may have hundreds, or even thousands, of sensors. The actual difficulty faced by water companies, Mr Peleg believes, is interpreting the signals those sensors are sending. It is impossible for people to handle all the incoming signals, and surprisingly hard for a computer, too.

TaKaDu’s engineers have therefore developed a monitoring system based on a statistical anomaly detection engine that is intended to identify clues in the data which might otherwise be missed. It applies a range of statistical tests (linear-regression analysis is one of the more familiar) to the data stream, and thus works out when the incoming signals are deviating significiantly from normal behaviour. Sometimes such deviations are caused by faulty meters. Sometimes they are caused by leaks. Either way, that is valuable knowledge.

To know what is deviant you have, of course, to know what is normal. Even a 1% change in flow rate can sometimes be significant, if it is persistent, but that is not always the case. Existing leak-detection systems therefore have thresholds built into them, to avoid false alarms. The price of this is that small leaks may go undetected and thus unrepaired, which often leads to larger leaks later. The detection engine attempts to work out what is important by using a process of continuous modelling to define normality. This identifies both obvious patterns—such as daily, weekly and annual flow-rates—and subtle ones, such as correlations between the behaviours of widely separated parts of the system that are brought about by things like similarities in network layout or in the behaviour of local customers. 

If the system does detect an anomaly, it asks itself if there is likely to be an innocent explanation (a change in the weather, for example, or a public holiday). If not, it attempts to narrow down exactly where the putative leak is and alerts a human operator to go and have a look.

And it seems to work. Early last year Thames Water, which supplies London, tested the system on 3,000km (2,000 miles) of mains. The detection engine proved able to identify minor leaks up to nine days earlier than Thames’s existing systems could manage, and even picked up major bursts as much as 3½ hours more quickly. In light of that success, Thames has now extended the detection engine’s reach over the whole 10,400km length of its urban mains network.

Other firms are following suit. TaKaDu’s detection engine is now looking after the water supply in a dozen places in Australia, Europe and Latin America, as well as in Israel itself. One of its early victories was in Jerusalem, where it found that a fire hydrant was indeed being used to fill a private swimming pool—pulling the plug, as it were, on a very surprised water thief.

Taking the extreme approach to Israel

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Want to mountain-bike through the Negev at moonlight? Rappel down Black Canyon? Spelunk in Mount Sedom? Name the extreme sport and Israel has it

You are probably familiar with the image of the brawny Israeli ex-soldier fearlessly charging up the Himalayan slopes or leaping off treacherous cliffs. Like most preconceptions, this representation contains more than a grain of truth. The fact is that Israelis love challenges – especially if they include the element of danger. And extreme sports – the popular term for a slew of sometimes counter-cultural activities perceived as being inherently dangerous – are disproportionately popular.

 “Israelis love nature – and they love the adrenalin rush. This combination is unbeatable, and far more suitable to the Israeli mindset than any high-tech amusement park,” says Moshe Meyers, CEO of Israel Extreme, a company specializing in off-the-beaten-track tourism.

 “Israelis stand out in terms of the percentage of people involved in extreme sports,” says Meyers. “This tiny country has so many natural sites for every type of extreme sport, from desert canyons to snow-capped mountains. We have some of the most beautiful sites in the world, many of them wheelchair accessible. I don’t know any other country with so many participants, yet people abroad are not aware of these options.”

Beyond the obvious airborne, waterborne or ground-level sports, Meyers says that going underground is the most rapidly developing extreme option.

 Click here to read the full article (MFA Newsletter )