Gilad Erdan and French Mideast envoy Valérie Hoffenberg 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Palestinians still suffer from both a water shortage and contaminated water
due to the refusal of Palestinian Authority leaders to cooperate with Israel due
to the unrelated political conflict, Environmental Protection Minister Gilad
Erdan said at a conference held in Paris on Tuesday.
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organized by the Union for the Mediterranean, was hosted by the French
government and President Nicolas Sarkozy’s envoy to the Middle East, Valérie
One of the main issues under discussion was achieving a
viable solution to regional water problems, as a path toward cooperation and
peace, the Environmental Protection Ministry said.
Erdan participated in
a roundtable discussion that included PA Water Authority Minister Dr. Shadad
Attili, Jordanian Water Minister Mohammed Najjar, Jordanian Minister of Regional
Cooperation Jafaar Hassan and Deputy Secretary-General of the Union for the
Mediterranean Rafiq Husseini. Also in attendance were the French environment and
economic cooperation ministers.
“The issue of water must be outside the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Erdan said in his speech. “If the Palestinians
will continue insisting to put conditions on things, we will not succeed in
achieving cooperation and will not find a solution to the water distress of this
whole region’s population.”
Erdan said the continued pollution of water
sources threatened Israelis and Palestinians alike, and that the Palestinian
leadership should stop debating who had the right to which water source and
instead begin discussing the urgent and mutual needs for water.
Israel supplied the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip much more
water than is mandatory under the Interim Agreement of 1995 (Oslo II), the
environment minister added.
Reiterating Israel’s commitment to finding
regional solutions to the water problem, Erdan said the government would
continue to enable international investments in water treatment plants,
including in the construction of additional desalination plants in
Turning to the PA Water Authority head, Erdan suggested that they
put aside mutual political suspicions and instead forge a relationship based on
solving environmental problems directly.
“How can I help you deal with
Israeli bureaucratic obstacles that delay finding solutions to the water
distress, such as even I encounter during ongoing activities, when you look for
excuses to refuse meetings?” Erdan asked Attili. “This way, nothing will be
Attili told Erdan that he would refuse to meet with him due to
his participation in the recent inauguration of the new Ma’aleh Hazeitim
neighborhood in southeast Jerusalem, the Environmental Protection Ministry said.