Trump Envoy Catapults Israeli-Palestinian Water Deal Previously Stalled for Years

Signed by Jordan in 2015, President Trump’s US envoy Jason Greenblatt hailed the Palestinian signing of the historic water/power agreement by saying this deal “will lead to economic improvement in the lives of the Palestinians.”



US Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt announced Thursday that Israel and the Palestinians have reached an agreement concerning the long-discussed Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal, which includes the sale of 33 million cubic meters of water to the Palestinian Authority to relieve the water situation there.

Greenblatt, at a press conference with Regional Cooperation Minister Tzahi Hanegbi and PA Water Authority head Mazen Ghuneim, said this agreement and the accord signed Monday between Israel and the PA that will significantly increase the power supply to Jenin are examples of how the two sides can cooperate to improve Palestinian living conditions.

“Water is a precious commodity in the Middle East,” Greenblatt said.

US Envoy Jason Greenblatt flanked by Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Tzahi Hanegbi (left) and PA Water Authority head Mazen Ghuneim. – Photo: MATTY STERN/US EMBASSY

The US envoy, who arrived earlier this week for discussion with the Israelis and the Palestinians, said that US President Donald Trump has “made clear that working toward a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is a top priority for him.”Greenblatt cut off any questions in the press conference, however, that dealt with more than the water deal. He said this deal, and the electricity deal, are examples of “cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians that will lead to economic improvement in the lives of the Palestinians.”

In the span of a week, he said, the Palestinians will benefit from agreements that provide “key improvement in the areas of water and electricity.”

According to Ghneim, 10 million cubic meters of the water will go to Gaza. He said that the deal was a localized one, and had no relation to final status issues. Water is one of the final status issues to be dealt with.

Hanegbi, who said that the the project will only be completed in some five years, said that the sale of water will not wait until the entire deal is completed.

He said that negotiations over the deal have been going on for months, and that there are two lessons from the process that can be taken forward.

One lesson, he said, is that “when you focus on the issues, not history or background or emotions or other disturbing elements, the common denominator is bigger than what separates us.”

The second lesson is that the more discreet the negotiations, the better chance they have to succeed.

Oded Revivi, Chief Foreign Envoy of the YESHA Council said that “we are very impressed by Jason Greenblatt’s ability to achieve a substantive agreement on water that will change people’s lives on the ground. We have long said that true peace must be built from the ground up, one step at a time.”