Israel’s national water authority says ability now exists to double the amount supplied to Gaza, with water supplies to Palestinian West Bank and Jordan to substantially increase as well.
By Ilana Curiel
Israel’s national water company Mekorot, in accordance with the Water Authority’s guidelines, recently doubled its water supply to the Gaza Strip by 5 million cubic meters. The annual supply will now amount to 10 million cubic meters of water.
The new water supply of 5 million cubic meters to the Gaza Strip will come from two sources including the Nahal Oz pipeline in the south and an older line in the Kissufim area that provides water to the center of the Strip.
Mekorot’s Vice President of Engineering, Avraham Ben-Yosef, said “Several years ago we laid the line near the fence on purpose in order to give the Palestinians the increment. With the rise of Hamas contact was cut off and only recently have conditions become ripe to supply them the water.
“Mekorot, as the national water company, is the the executive body. Thanks to our desalination plants along the coast, there is no lack of water in the country. There is no problem transferring water, the only limitation is the means of water supply. Moreover, we intend to enlarge the water lines to the Palestinian Authority in order to increase the supply,” Ben-Yosef added.
In 2016, according to a report published after Operation Protective Edge, the coastal aquifer’s groundwater will become unfit for drinking due to salinity as a result of over-extraction. A leading Israeli defense official explained to Ynet that the water problem has been on the Israeli agenda for a long time, and is not affected by current security conditions.
Last March, the head of the Palestinian Water Authority stated that the Palestinian Authority made the necessary operational preparations to absorb extra water. In 2014 Mekorot provided 57 million cubic meters of water to the Palestinians in the West Bank from the mountain aquifer, the main part of which is in Israeli territory.
In addition to the water supplied by Israel, the Palestinian Authority draws water from an aquifer in its own territory. The amount of water that Israel committed to transferring to the Palestinian Authority within the framework of a water agreement signed in Washington in 1995, as part of the Oslo Accords, was about 30 million cubic meters per year,
Over the years, the quantity of water supplied by Mekorot increased far beyond the amount agreed upon. Over the last five years, over 52 million cubic meters of water were annually supplied to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and 5 million cubic meters of water were annually supplied to the Gaza Strip, nearly 2 twice the agreed-upon amount.
The amount of water provided to the Palestinian Authority from Israel’s national water system and its quality are among the highest in the world, in accordance with international standards. Moreover, Israel transfers, via Mekorot, 55 million cubic meters of water annually to Jordan.
In accordance with the government’s decision, Mekorot will also increase the amount of water supplied to Jordan. Currently, water is supplied to Jordan via the Beit Zera water storage in the Beit She’an Valley, which receives its water from the Sea of Galilee. 55 million cubic meters of water are supplied to Jordan.
View original Ynet publication at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4665260,00.html