Water deal reached between Israel and Palestinians
After six years without a functioning Joint Water Committee, the Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories and the PA's Minister of Civil Affairs sign a new water agreement intended to improve the quality of life for the entire West Bank.
Israel's Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories (COGAT) signed an agreement with the Palestinian Authority's Minister of Civil Affairs on Sunday to renew the activity of the Joint Water Committee.
The Israeli, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, and the Palestinian, Hussein al-Sheikh, brought to the signing the heads of their respective water authorities. The agreement seeks to establish a framework for the convening of the JWC under the 1995 Interim Agreement, part of the Oslo Accords. One of the goals is to improve and modernize the West Bank water infrastructure, which is essential to the fabric of normal life for those who live there.
According to the agreement, the JWC will reconvene after not having met regularly for six years. It will discuss the allocation of additional water to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, increasing water water sources with new drilling, environmental issues, water tariffs, agricultural water use and promoting hydrological matters. The agreement will allow the laying of new pipes for water, sewage and effluent quickly and efficiently.
Another result is that new projects should be able to advance quickly, including planning new water lines to increase the capacity existing ones which have reached their limit. The committee will work on coordinating joint water-reservoir usage in preparation for the coming summer months.
Meanwhile, Israel and the Palestinians are working to formulate a long-term strategic plan for up to 2040, planning for the expected population growth in the region. The JWC should streamline dozens of other new projects, which include laying water lines throughout the West Bank.
The COGAT said, "The signing of this water agreement proves that it's possible to reach understandings and agreements when we discuss issues substantively, bilaterally, clean of extraneous issues of natural resources and additional infrastructures that affect the entire population. Over the past year and half, we've signed four agreements: electricity, water, mail and 3G cellular infrastructure, which is intended to improve the quality of life for all the populations in the region."