MAJ.-GEN. YOAV (POLY) MORDECHAI (left) shakes hands with Palestinian Authority Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh after agreeing to renew activities of the Joint Water Committee..
(photo credit: COGAT)
Palestinians and Israelis on Sunday agreed to renew activities of the Joint Water Committee after a six-year freeze that has made it difficult to advance projects to benefit Palestinians and Israelis living in the West Bank and contributed to acute water shortages in the summer months.
On Sunday, while the international community met in Paris to discuss the peace process, Israeli and Palestinian officials held a regional meeting.
Maj.-Gen. Yoav (Poly) Mordechai sat with Palestinian Authority Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh at a table adorned with small Israeli and Palestinian flags. They were joined by Moshe Garazi and Mazen Jenim, the Israeli and Palestinian heads of the respective water authorities.
“Signing the water agreement proves that you can reach agreements and understandings when you discuss matters in a substantive, bilateral manner that is clean of foreign considerations when it concerns matters of natural resources and other infrastructural issues that affect the entire population,” Mordechai said.
“In the last year and a half, we [Israelis and Palestinians] signed four agreements for electricity, water, postal services and 3G infrastructure in telecommunications, which are designed to improve the welfare of the entire population in the region,” he said.
Once the committee reconvenes, it will look to improve and modernize the water infrastructure in the West Bank, which is out of date and cannot handle the needs of the growing population in that area.
The committee will look at allocating more water to the Gaza Strip and discuss taxes and the use of recycled water for agriculture.
It also will work on a 23-year strategic plan to provide water to the area until 2040.
Separately, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA, a new pipeline will be inaugurated next month to increase the amount of cooking gas available for Gaza residents from 230-300 tons daily to 450 tons. It also will provide gas for Gaza’s power plant.