A Palestinian water and environmental engineer from Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME), Nader al-Khateeb recently discovered that the mayor is among many in Bethlehem who have been without water for more than one month. He shared this startling revelation at the International Water Symposium held on Tuesday at the 15th Cleantech Exhibit in Tel Aviv. The symposium designed to source mutual solutions for water scarce Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority came apart at the seams as politics overshadowed goodwill.
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The Jerusalem Post outlined the discussions held between Shimon Tal, President of the Israeli Water Association and the former Water Commissioner, Nader al Khateeb, Munqeth Melyar, a Jordanian panelist, also from FoEME, and Amjad Aliewi, a Palestinian water engineer
Following Tal’s comment that the region does not have sufficient water resources and that all three countries could benefit from a system that shares those that do exist, he added that Jordan is worse off.
Mirror mirror on the wall
Khateeb took umbrage to this comment, suggesting that Palestinians are on par with or even worse off than Jordanians. He explained that a mental health hospital in Bethlehem has completely run out of water, but even the mayor, who has been purchasing water privately for 34, was unable to assuage their concerns.
“Can you imagine people, mentally sick, and they don’t have water?” the Jerusalem Post quoted Khateeb.
He added that the Palestinians are held hostage to the 1933 Oslo Accords that delineated water rights in the region, while Aliewi complained that Israel taps into West Bank wells at will, undermining the PA’s ability to develop even a semblance of its own statehood.
According to the JP, Israel consumes 280 liters of water a day, while Jordan has access to only 145 liters, and the PA has even less at just 60 liters a day.
Melyar suggests that Jordan suffers the most since it is at the end of every river, but also acknowledged that Israel is a better source of help than Damascus when the country is in a pinch. He laments, however, that even though Jordan and Israel share a peace treaty, they aren’t sharing Israel’s advanced desalination technology.
Tal proposed that Israel could send water from the Hadera desalination plant to the West Bank and finish a pipeline to Gaza that is only 100 meters from completion.
“Until the final agreement, let’s start doing the things that we can,” Tal said.
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image via McKaySavage