RAMALLAH, September 10, 2012 (WAFA) - Minister of the Palestinian Water Authority Shaddad Attili Monday said that permit restrictions imposed by the Israeli Civil Administration on the construction and rehabilitation of Palestinian water infrastructure in C-Area caused enormous human hardship and destroyed what little hope remained for building a viable Palestinian state.
Attili said, in a press release, that in water as in other sectors, Israeli policies in C-Area are squarely aimed at both forcibly displacing Palestinians, while integrating C-Area into Israel proper.
“The Israeli Civil Administration continues to intentionally delay and obstruct Palestinian water and other infrastructure projects in Area C which ensures that Palestine’s water sector remaining underdeveloped and inadequate to meet current needs,” he said.
Attili added that it also undermines Palestinians efforts to plan for the future, such as building the national infrastructure needed to support a future Palestinian state.
“In short, Israel’s policies in C-Area seek to make permanent the status quo of territorial fragmentation, settlement expansion and resource exploitation that are all fundamental to its continued occupation,” he said.
The press release said that Attili drew attention to Israel’s policy of conditioning the Joint Water Committee (JWC) approval for Palestinian water projects on prior Palestinian approval of water projects benefiting illegal Israeli settlements.
He said, “Israel is reducing the JWC to a forum for blackmail by refusing to grant JWC approval to urgently needed Palestinian water projects unless JWC first approves water projects intended to service illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The result is that the JWC has now been completely deadlocked for the best part of the last two years.”
“If Israel continues to treat the JWC as a mechanism through which to arm twist and blackmail Palestinians,” Attili said “then the JWC will face a very uncertain future. In essence, Israel will have killed the JWC.”
Attili called on the international community, and particularly donor countries to the Palestinian water sector, to immediately intervene to both end Israel’s policy of blackmail in the JWC as well as ICA permit restrictions for Palestinian water projects in Area C.
“All donor countries officially support the two-state solution and agree that the greatest threat to its realization is Israel’s ongoing colonization and settlement of the West Bank. By conditioning its approval of Palestinian water projects supported and funded by donors on prior JWC approval for projects supporting settlements, Israel has created a situation in which donor support for the Palestinian water sector is in danger of undermining donor support for the two-state solution. Donor countries need to intervene to change this situation, for the sake of Palestinian water rights and for the future of the two-state solution,” he added.
Attili dismissed a recent “factsheet” released by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) as both grossly inaccurate and highly misleading.
“COGAT’s last factsheet 'Water in the West Bank' is nothing more than an attempt to window dress Israel’s military occupation. So grotesque are its inaccuracies that it will offend anyone remotely familiar with actual realities on the ground, and the water apartheid Israel has created during its four decade old occupation over our land and natural resources,” Dr Attili said.Attili made reference to a number of reports produced over the last decade by organizations such as the World Bank, UN-OCHA and Amnesty International as well as by Israeli NGO’s like B’Tselem, all of whom paint a very different picture to COGAT’s report.