Israel: World Bank is 'ignoring facts'

Foreign Ministry blasts report over water shortage in W. Bank, Gaza that places blame on Jewish state.

kids digging gaza 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
kids digging gaza 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Foreign Ministry has blasted the World Bank's report on the alleged water shortage in the West Bank and Gaza which held Israel partly responsible and said the authors "ignored" Israel's position. According to the report, which was published on April 20, Israel extracts 50 percent more water from the three aquifers it shares with the Palestinian Authority than it is supposed to according to the Oslo II Accords. "Israel has fulfilled all its obligations under the water agreement regarding the supply of additional quantities of water to the Palestinians and has even extensively surpassed the obligatory quantity," the Foreign Ministry said in a formal statement this week. The ministry spokesman charged that, on the other hand, the Palestinians had significantly violated their commitments under the agreement. He charged that the PA had drilled more than 250 wells without permission from the joint water commission and had failed to construct sewage treatment plants despite their obligation to do so. Instead, the spokesman added, the PA allowed the sewage to flow into streams, thereby polluting the environment and the groundwater. According to the Israeli response, "the authors of the report met with Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) officials and were briefed on all the factual details. They were also presented with the Israeli position paper on the subject, which contained verifiable facts that contradict all the objections presented in the bank's report. "Significantly," the response said, "the authors chose to ignore the MFA position and declined to take the facts presented to them into consideration in the published report." The authors chose to rely "totally on unsubstantiated information" provided by the PA, "which raises serious question marks over the credibility of the report and the intention of its authors." The World Bank study said that while the PA has many internal problems, it also suffered from effective Israeli control over the distribution of water resources between the two sides. Among other things, the bank charged that Israel controlled the joint water committee established by the interim agreement to deal with water issues affecting both parties.