Israel 'blackmailing' Palestinian Water Authority
Israel is using water agreements signed in the Oslo Accords to blackmail the Palestinian Water Authority and destroy the two-state solution, the head of the PWA said Monday.
Israel has reduced the Joint Water Committee, set up to implement the Oslo Agreement on water, to "a forum for blackmail," Shaddad Attili said in a statement.
Israel refuses to approve Palestinian projects to construct and rehabilitate water infrastructure in the West Bank unless the Palestinian Authority approves projects to benefit illegal Israeli settlements, Attili said.
"This is no different to asking us to approve our own occupation and colonization."
Attili added: "If Israel continues to treat the JWC as a mechanism through which to arm twist and blackmail Palestinians, then the JWC faces a very uncertain future. In essence, Israel will have killed the JWC."
By obstructing water projects in Area C, 60 percent of the West Bank, Israel undermines Palestinian efforts to build the infrastructure needed for a state, and forcibly displaces Palestinians by obstructing their access to water.
"In short, Israel’s policies in Area C seek to make permanent the status quo of territorial fragmentation, settlement expansion and resource exploitation that are all fundamental to its continued occupation," the water chief said.
Donor countries recognize settlements as a threat to the two-state solution, yet donor-funded water projects in the West Bank are only approved if the JWC approves projects supporting settlements.
"Israel has created a situation in which donor support for the Palestinian water sector is in danger of undermining donor support for the two-state solution. Donor countries need to intervene to change this situation, for the sake of Palestinian water rights and for the future of the two-state solution," Attili said.
In 2011, Israeli forces demolished 46 Palestinian rainwater-harvesting cisterns and 25 wells. Current data suggests this number will be surpassed in 2012, the Palestinian Water Authority says.
The PWA has submitted over 100 applications for water projects that are still waiting approval by Israel, some of which date back to 1999.
The Oslo Accords were slated as a five-year interim agreement until the establishment of a Palestinian state, but remain in place nearly two decades on in the absence of a final agreement. The agreement maintained Israeli control over West Bank water resources and its levels of extraction from them.
Demonstrators protesting the rising cost of living in cities across the West Bank have demanded the cancellation of the Paris Protocol, the economic annex to the Oslo Accords which Palestinians say mostly benefited Israel.
Source: Ma'an News