By Aryeh Savir
Tazpit News Agency
A new environmental report compiled by “Green Now” in conjunction with the Association of Cities in Judea and Samaria was presented for the first time at a conference which took place at the end of last month. The conference, held in Ariel and a first of its kind, focused on environmental issues in Judea and Samaria.
The Conference was held following a report published by Dr. Nitzan Levy, the Managing Director of environmental issues at the Association of Cities in the Judea region. The report described the current environmental situation in the Judea and Samaria region. The primary findings are that the environment is in danger, and therefore harm is caused to the quality of life of the residents living in these areas. Despite the significant conclusion that damage is being caused to both the Jewish and Arab populations residing in these areas, and despite the importance of protecting the environment, many environmental organizations chose not to attend the conference and even banned it because the conference was held in Ariel. The conference was attended by members of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, researchers and experts. During the conference solutions were proposed to deal with waste-waters, air pollution, and the prevention of illegal water drilling by Palestinians.
One of the main chapters in the report related to water usage in Judea and Samaria. The author, Prof. Chaim Gvirtsman, noted that the State of Israel supplies more water to the Palestinians than it had initially agreed to in the Oslo Accords. As ascribed by the accords, a Joint Water Committee was established. However, as a result of political motives, many issues were not addressed properly by the committee, causing considerable damage to the environment. 33% of water consumed by the Palestinians is lost due to lack of proper maintenance of their pipes. Furthermore, the Palestinians continue to steal water by illegal drilling and by using “Mekorot” (Israel’s water Company) pipes. They do not purify their waste-waters, as it can be re-used for agricultural irrigation. The report determined that Israel on its part has fulfilled all its obligations regarding the water issues, including the consideration for Palestinian “future needs”.
The Minister of Environmental Protection Gilad Erdan pointed out that in addition to the stealing of Israel’s waters, the State of Israel continues to supply water and electricity to Gaza, and in effect, Israeli citizens are those who are subsidizing the Palestinians’ water and electricity expenses.
“Green Now” and the Association of Cities in Judea and Samaria called on the Palestinians to cooperate on all environmental issues. A summary of the report stated: “The main conclusion from this articles collection, which in many ways creates a report of the state of the environment in Judea and Samaria, is the urgent need for a solid trans-boundary environmental management.”
Ofer Inbar, Director of “Green Now” told Tazpit News Agency: “Green Now recognizes that the water usage is a fundamental strategic issue and therefore will work, as part of its various activities, to safeguard the water resources of the State of Israel and to ensure that the Palestinians fulfill their obligation to protect the environment which we all share. The environment knows no boundaries, and the considerable damage caused in Judea and Samaria may affect all residents of the State of Israel.”