Trump envoy announces historic Israeli-Palestinian water deal

by WorldTribune Staff, July 14, 2017

Israel has agreed to sell 33 million cubic meters of water to the Palestinian Authority (PA) to help relieve the PA’s dire water situation, an envoy to U.S. President Donald Trump announced on July 13.

U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt said Israel and the Palestinians had reached a deal on the long-discussed Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal, the Jerusalem Post reported.

U.S. envoy Jason Greenblatt flanked by Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Tzahi Hanegbi, left, and PA Water Authority head Mazen Ghuneim. / U.S. Embassy photo

Greenblatt, at a press conference in Jerusalem with Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi and PA Water Authority head Mazen Ghuneim, said the agreement and an accord signed on July 10 between Israel and the PA that will significantly increase the power supply to the West Bank city of Jenin are examples of how the two sides can cooperate to improve Palestinian living conditions.

“The administration has urged the parties to undertake efforts to promote an environment that is conducive to advancing peace, and this new agreement – the second major Israeli-Palestinian agreement signed this week – is another indication that the parties are capable of working together to achieve mutually beneficial results,” the White House said in a statement.

A senior official in the Palestinian Water Authority said Israel agreed to start selling the water to the PA by the end of the year, long before the project – expected to take five years to construct – is completed, the Jerusalem Post report said.

The project includes the building of a desalination plant in Aqaba, and the laying of a 200-kilometer pipeline from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea.

Under the project, Israel will buy some 35 of water desalinated in the plant to be built in Aqaba for the south, and in return Jordan will buy 50 from Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) for its northern region. The 200-kilometer pipeline will carry sea water from Aqaba to the rapidly shrinking Dead Sea.

Hanegbi said that the agreement “will supply a significant amount of water to Jordan, to Israel and to the Palestinians. It will help us challenge the biggest problem the Dead Sea is facing – the evaporation of a meter a year – and it will also harness green energy.”

Oded Revivi, chief foreign envoy of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, said: “We are very impressed by Jason Greenblatt’s ability to achieve a substantive agreement on water that will change people’s lives on the ground. We have long said that true peace must be built from the ground up, one step at a time.”

Greenblatt said that Trump has “made clear that working toward a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is a top priority for him.”

Greenblatt on July 13 also held diplomatic discussions in Ramallah with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, and in Jerusalem with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. He also took part in the first meeting of envoys of the so-called Mideast Quartet – made up of the U.S., Russia, EU and UN – in Jerusalem.

The Quartet issued a statement saying the envoys discussed “current efforts to advance Middle East peace as well as the deteriorating situation in Gaza,” and “expressed serious concern over the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza and discussed current efforts to resolve the crisis.”

They agreed to meet again and continue “regular engagement” with Israel, the Palestinians and “key regional stakeholders.”

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