Israeli minister threatens to cut off water supplies to West Bank

Israeli minister threatens to cut off water supplies to West Bank

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, Israeli minister of infrastructure Uzi Landau has threatened to cut water supplies to the West Bank if the PA did not stop dumping untreated sewage.

“If the Palestinians continue to dump their waste water, polluting rivers and the aquifer, Israel will stop supplying them” with drinking water, Landau told the army radio on Wednesday.

“Palestinians must meet their duties and connect to sewage treatment plants. Otherwise, we’ll give them drinking water but none for industrial or agricultural needs,” Landau added.

The West Bank aquifer is a crucial source of water for both Israel and the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli Water Authority says that 73% of waste water from the two million Palestinians in the West Bank – excluding east Jerusalem – is not treated.

Israel largely controls joint water resources and supplies most of the water consumed in the West Bank.

The PA, which is aiming to build the institutions and infrastructure of a viable, independent state by mid-2011, has blamed Israel for the lack of treatment plants.

“This is not a new position and we reject it completely. It is the Israelis who are keeping us from building waste water treatment plants,” Shaddad Al-Attili, the head of the Palestinian Water Authority, told AFP.

“We have been asking to carry out projects since 1997 but the Israelis have not given us permits to build stations in Areas B and C,” he added, referring to large areas of the West Bank that are under strict Israeli restrictions.

Meanwhile, Israeli human rights groups charged Israel’s occupation army and its civil administration of robbing tax revenues in the West Bank in violation of the international law.

Hebrew daily Ha’aretz on Wednesday quoted those groups as saying that the civil administration and the army seized around 23 million dollars of Palestinian tax revenues.