Jason Greenblatt, the White House’s special envoy for international negotiations, announced on Thursday that Israel and the Palestinian Authority reached a landmark, U.S.-mediated water agreement.
Though Greenblatt presented the agreement in the context of a planned canal extending from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, he focused on the part of the deal that calls for Israel to sell the PA 33 million cubic meters of water, The Jerusalem Post reported. The desalinated water will “help not only Palestinians and Israelis, but Jordanians as well,” he added. “As we all know water is a precious commodity in the Middle East,” Greenblatt said, noting that the U.S. “welcomed” the deal.
Explaining the significance of the water deal, as well the electricity deal concluded earlier this week by the Palestinians and Israel, Greenblatt said:
This agreement is an example of the parties working together to make a mutually beneficial deal. In fact this is the second important agreement reached between the Israelis and Palestinians this week, the first being the agreement to energize the Jenin electrical substation, which was signed on Monday. That agreement came about with the strong support of the Trump administration and other international partners and provides another example of cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians that will lead to economic improvements in the lives of Palestinians, who now, in the span of one week, benefited from agreements that provide key improvements in the critical areas of water and electricity.
At the press conference, Greenblatt was flanked by Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi and PA Water Authority head Mazen Ghuneim.
Hanegbi stated that while the canal won’t be finished for five years, Israel will be selling the water to the PA before the project is complete. He acknowledged that negotiations had been ongoing for months and that a lesson from the successful conclusion of the talks 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.”
Ghuneim clarified that some 10 million cubic meters of water will be earmarked for the Gaza Strip.
Gidon Bromberg, the Israel Director of EcoPeace, an organization that connects Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian environmentalists, told The Israel Project (which publishes The Tower) that the deal is “absolutely critical” because there is “real water scarcity.” He also noted that water sharing plans between Israel and Jordan have already begun as a pipeline for carrying water from the Sea of Galilee to Jordan is being built.
Moreover, the water that Israel will be sending to the Palestinian Authority for the residents of the West Bank and Gaza, Bromberg said, “puts the Palestinians fully in the picture” and encourages “cooperation over water resources,” which will address the issue of water scarcity affecting the Palestinian population.
A full recording of Bromberg’s remarks is embedded below.
[Photo: U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv / YouTube ]