The Palestinian Authority is refusing to cooperate with Israel on water conservation and quality control, leaving its own people high and dry. But Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan warned Tuesday in Paris that it was essential for the PA to understand that some issues must be considered before those of politics -- and one of them is water.
“The issue of water must be outside the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Erdan said at a roundtable discussion in which he participated together with Jordan's Water Minister Mohammed Najjar and Regional Cooperation Minister Jafa'ar Hassan. Also participating in the discussion was the PA Water Authority Minister, Dr. Shadad Attili and Deputy Secretary-General of the Union for the Mediterranean, Rafiq Husseini, as well as the French ministers for environmental protection and economic cooperation.
The conference was hosted by the government of France and President Nicolas Sarkozy's Middle East envoy, Valerie Hoffenberg. It was organized by the Union for the Mediterranean.
“If the Palestinians will continue to insist on putting 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.
According to the minister, Israel currently supplies the PA in Judea and Samaria, as well as in Gaza, with far more water than that which was required under the 1995 Oslo II agreement. However, Erdan said, continued pollution of many water sources today threatens both Israel and the PA alike.
He urged the PA leadership to stop arguing about which party has the right to which source of water, and instead to get focused on the mutual need for water faced by everyone in the region.
Israel has become a world leader in the field of recycled water in recent years. The Jewish State has developed advanced technology in the area, and recycles at least 70 percent of its own waste water and sewage, in addition to its desalination plants.