US Middle East envoy announces Palestine-Israel water deal

US Middle East envoy announces Palestine-Israel water deal
Palestinians in the occupied territories continue to endure water shortages due to unequal distributions of water resources, caused by illegal Israeli settlements
2 min read
13 July, 2017

Israel will supply millions of cubic metres of water annually to Palestinian territories, says US President Donald Trump's Middle East peace envoy.

Jason Greenblatt hailed the deal as an "important step forward" in a wider regional water deal, as Israel announced it would provide more than 32 million cubic metres of water to the occupied Palestinian territories and beseiged Gaza annually.

"Water is a precious commodity in the Middle East. The United States welcomes the agreement reached by the Palestinian Authority and the government of Israel which will allow for the sale of up to 33 million cubic metres of water from Israel to the PA [Palestinian Authority]," Greenblatt said at a signing ceremony in Jerusalem.

Palestine endures water shortages due to the unequal distribution of water resources, provoked by illegal settlements. Palestinians have suffered as a result of Israel's demolitions of Palestinian sources of water, and the illegal seizure of farmland.

Comment: Trump should know: Bibi won't budge

The deal should help ease the problem of water shortages in Palestinian territories - including in the Gaza Strip, where more than 95 percent of water is undrinkable.

Mazen Ghunaim, the head of the Palestinian Water Authority, said 22 million cubic metres would go to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, while a further 10 million would go to Gaza.

"This will reduce the suffering of the Palestinian people which has been worsened by the beginning of summer and the crises that they are living through," he claimed.

The deal is part of a pre-existing plan to link the Dead Sea and the Red Sea by pipelines in Jordan.

The plan would also seek to reverse the disappearance of the Dead Sea, where water levels drop by a metre a year, according to Israeli officials.

Israel has seized enough water sources through settlement projects to put Palestinians through extortionate amounts of suffering.

Meanwhile, settlement farms on Palestinian land have exploded, with the number of children being pressured into working on settlement farms.

This is all done under the pretext of Israel claiming such settlements are a military deterrence.

Greenblatt is seeking to restart peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, stalled since talks collapsed in 2014.

President Donald Trump has also said he wants to reach an "ultimate deal" between the two parties.