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Fayyad: Water crisis due to Israel's control of resources

May 21, 2012 8:29 P.M. (Updated: May 23, 2012 9:29 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israel's control of Palestinian water resources in the West Bank is responsible for the water crisis, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Monday.

Opening a conference on water and the prospects for agricultural development in Palestine, Fayyed said strategic vision and a long-term plan were needed to resolve the crisis.

The two-day conference was organized by the Palestine Technical University, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Palestinian Water Authority.

Conference president Mahmud Rahil said Palestinian farmers must be supported, and that the water shortages were a political issue as Israel controls 85 percent of the water resources in the West Bank.

Palestinians must secure their water rights, Rahil said.

A UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs report released in March said Jewish settlers had seized dozens of natural springs in the West Bank, barring Palestinians or limiting their access to scarce water sources.

The report added: "Since the beginning of its occupation in 1967, Israel has established and maintained a system of direct control over the exploitation and distribution of West Bank water resources."

Jewish settlers consume 300 liters per capita per day, compared to around 70 liters consumed by Palestinians.

Settlers are connected to the Israeli water network, which draws from wells in the West Bank and Israel. Most of the water allocated to settlers is used to produce agricultural goods for export, UNOCHA says.

Meanwhile, around 300,000 Palestinians in the West Bank are vulnerable to water scarcity, the report adds.

Around 14,000 people rely on tankers of water at five times the price of piped water. They have access to around 30 liters a day, one-tenth the quantity accessed by settlers.

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