Efrat settlement, West Bank.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Some 60,000 settlers are suffering from water shortages in the West Bank, the Samaria Regional Council said on Monday, as part of its campaign to force the government to take the matter seriously.
“For the last five years we have been turning to the Water Authority, warning that the infrastructure cannot handle the population growth in Samaria,” Regional Council head Yossi Dagan said.
He wrote about attempts to ward off the water crisis in a letter that he penned to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu along with Ariel Mayor Eli Shaviro.
Noting that this was not a problem that could be fixed overnight, they called on Netanyahu to create an investigatory committee to find out who was responsible for this “serious failure.”
On Monday, settlement leaders met with Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz and presented him with a long list of governmental departments that had failed to respond to their complaints about the water infrastructure in the West Bank.
According to the Samaria Regional Council, their communities have a daily shortage of 7,000 cubic meters of water.
After the meeting they said that Steinitz had promised to work to put in place an emergency plan to deal with their water shortage and that of the Palestinians, who are similarly suffering from a lack of water.
The Palestinians have complained that their water shortage is made more acute because water is being diverted from their communities to the settlements.
Israel’s water company, Mekorot, however, has told The Jerusalem Post that it has increased the water supply to the Palestinians and has not decreased it.
The water authority has blamed the shortage on the Palestinians. It has charged that some of the issues are a result of Palestinian water theft.
With regard to the larger issue of inadequate infrastructure, it said that plans to upgrade the system have been blocked because the Palestinians have refused to allow Israel to convene the Joint Water Committee.
The committee is a mechanism set up under the 1993 Oslo Accords to allow Israelis and Palestinians to jointly regulate water issues. But for the last five years the Palestinians have refused to sit with Israelis in that committee.