Israel, Palestinians agree to resume cooperation on West Bank water projects
Israel and the Palestinian Authority on Sunday signed an agreement to renew cooperation on joint water projects benefiting Israeli and Palestinian residents of the West Bank after a six year freeze in activities.
Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), and Palestinian Authority Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh, signed an agreement to restart the Israeli–Palestinian Joint Water Committee (JWC).
The JWC was established in 1995 as part of the second Oslo interim peace accords, and was intended as a temporary mechanism lasting five years.
The Committee, tasked with maintaining, upgrading, and developing water infrastructure in the West Bank, as well as improving access to water in Palestinian villages, has not met in six years.
The freeze has contributed to acute water shortages during summer months, the Jerusalem Post reports.
Under the agreement, the JWC will resume discussion on topics such as improving water supply in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as approving drilling for new wells.
With renewed cooperation, the committee will now work on a long-term strategic plan through 2040 in order to accommodate for expected population growth in the region.
"Signing the water agreement proves that you can reach agreements and understandings when you discuss matters in a substantive, bilateral manner that is clean of foreign considerations when it concerns matters of natural resources and other infrastructural issues that affect the entire population," Mordechai said in a statement.
In addition to the water agreement, Israel and the Palestinian Authority have signed joint agreements for electricity, postal services, and 3G communications infrastructure over the last year and a half.
(Staff with agencies)
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