SHARED ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN WATER RESOURCES IN JEOPARDY
February 6, 2006
The Mountain Aquifer, a joint Palestinian Israeli water resource of prime importance to both people, is under a severe threat of pollution from waste of over 3 million people residing on its sensitive recharge area.
Currently, over 1 million tons of solid waste, and over 60 million cubic meters of wastewater, are polluting the Mountain Aquifer every year.
In a report series published over the last two years, EcoPeace Middle East, a joint Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian NGO, has identified infrastructure projects in the West Bank that are expected to alleviate the pollution threat.
“In response to the recent Quartet statement on donors’ assistance to the Palestinian Authority, we have called upon the Quartet, USAID, German Aid, European Commission and the World Bank to continue donor funding for sewage and solid waste projects”, says Zach Tagar, of EcoPeace and co-author of the reports. “Without these projects, pollutants such as nitrates, chlorides, cadmium, lead, mercury and arsenic will continue to pollute both peoples scarce water resources.”
For the implementation of pollution prevention projects, funds from the international community may be directed to Palestinian municipalities or directly to private contractors. In all of these projects, donor country agencies oversee project implementation on the ground.
Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director of EcoPeace explains that “local municipalities, for example, have proven in several cases highly effective in implementing wastewater and solid waste projects. Recognizing the needs of their residents, they have devoted significant resources and motivation to the implementation of local projects under difficult conflict circumstances.”
Nader Khatib, Palestinian Director of EcoPeace adds that “in some cases, cooperation between Palestinian and Israeli municipalities proved successful where national authorities were unable to implement important projects. Further, the political leadership of major Palestinian municipalities has remained Fateh.”
In light of the position taken by the Quartet regarding continued funding to the PA, EcoPeace calls upon the international donor community to consider alternative avenues of development cooperation, for the benefit of both people, and for the prevention of exacerbated conflict over water.