Israel and PA Talk Water
Palestinian Authority water chief Shadad al-Ateli said Wednesday that discussions with the Israel to increase quantities of drinking water without raising prices are underway.
Israel has sought to increase the price of one cubic liter of water from NIS 2.60 to NIS 3.70 in accordance with market rates currently paid by Israeli citizens living in the Jewish state.
The increase, al-Ateli said, would cost the PA treasury around 700 million shekels.
Al-Ateli told Voice of Palestine radio that Israel "was not committed to water agreements under the Oslo Accords" and complained the quantity of water the PA received this year was less than it received in 1995.
Israeli officials, however, note that the PA has never developed its own separate water infrastructure as required by the now 17-year old Oslo Accords, and that the rate increase is in-line with what Israeli consumers pay.
Instead of investing in their people's future, Israeli officials say, the PA has tacitly endorsed widespread water theft in lieu of building its own water system.
Earlier this year, Israeli water company employees and police disconnected 230 illegal Arab connections to Israel’s main water lines in Judea and Samaria.
In addition, the IDF’s Judea Region destroyed several small pirate reservoirs used for stolen water in the Kiryat Arba-Hebron region.
Israeli citizens have paid increased rates and surcharges for excess water usage due to water theft throughout Judea and Samaria.
In response to the Israeli crackdown, the PA water authority accused Israel of "systematically destroying water infrastructure" in areas under full Israeli control.
Al-Ateli did concede, however, that there were additional water problems being caused by poor management in Bethlehem, where officials are considering instituting a schedule for distribution to deal with shortages.
Water is one of the six final status issues to be resolved in any future peace agreement.