Major General Yoav Mordechai and Hussein a-Sheikh
Major General Yoav Mordechai and Hussein a-SheikhCOGAT spokesman

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Major General Yoav (Poli) Mordechai, and the Palestinian Authority (PA) official in charge of civil affairs, Hussein a-Sheikh, on Sunday signed an agreement to renew the activity of the Joint Water Committee, together with the heads of the Israeli and PA water authorities.

The Joint Water Committee was created in 1995 as part of the Oslo Accords. Its purpose is to manage water and sewage related infrastructure in Judea and Samaria.

Sunday’s agreement, according to a statement from the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, is intended to establish a framework for the convening of the Joint Water Committee, so as improve and renew the water infrastructure in Judea and Samaria, a necessity for maintaining the standard of living for the populations in the area.

Following the agreement, the Joint Water Committee will convene for the first time in six years to discuss the supply of additional water to Judea and Samaria and Gaza, expanding water sources via new drilling, environmental matters, tariffs on water, use of recycled water for agriculture and advancement of hydrological matters.

The agreement will enable the installation of new water, sewage, and wastewater pipelines in a timely and effective manner.

It will also enable the advancement of new initiatives, planning of new water pipelines to increase their capacity (as the existing ones have reached full capacity), and the advance additional projects. The Committee will deal with matters pertaining to the coordination of the activity of joint water reservoirs so as to prepare for the coming summer months, during which demand is greater than supply capacity and challenges emerge in provision of water.

The sides are currently formulating a long-term strategic plan for 2040 based on demographic projections. The Committee will enable the advancement of dozens of initiatives, many of which will be examined in the immediate future as well as several others, including installation of new water pipelines in Judea and Samaria.

"Signing the water agreement demonstrates yet again that there are issues that should remain outside the political playing field and that when both sides see what is in the best interest of their respective constituencies, understandings agreements can be arrived at,” Major General Mordechai said on Sunday.

“During the last year and a half, we have signed four agreements: electricity, water, mail and 3G cellular coverage, which are intended to improve the standard of living for all populations in the area," he added.

Israel consistently assists the PA economically, even as PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas regularly blames Israel for the PA’s financial woes while spending six percent of the PA’s annual budget to pay $4.5 million a month to jailed terrorists.