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)
A UN official on Monday lauded the renewed cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians on water issues in the West Bank as an important move to the creation of a two-state solution.
“I welcome the signature of an agreement to renew the activity of the Israeli – Palestinian Joint Water Committee to improve the water infrastructure and supply in the occupied West Bank and Gaza," UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov said.
"This, along with previous joint agreements on electricity, water, mail and 3G cellular coverage, is in line with the Middle East Quartet’s recommendations," Mladenov said
"If fully implemented, this agreement would be an important step toward preserving the two-state solution. I encourage further cooperation between the two sides which is critical to the viability of a future Palestinian state," Mladenov said.
Israeli, Palestinian officials criticize Paris peace conference
Palestinians and Israelis agreed Sunday 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 stymied peace process, Israeli and Palestinian officials held a regional meeting on critical meeting on water.
Major General Yoav 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,” said Mordechai.
“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,” Mordechai 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 the 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.