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PA says in talks with Israel over water shortages

June 28, 2012 1:42 A.M. (Updated: June 28, 2012 11:18 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The head of the Palestinian water authority said Wednesday that discussions with the Israeli side were ongoing to increase quantities of drinking water without raising prices.

Israel seeks to increase the price of one cubic liter of water from 2.60 shekels to 3.70 shekels, which will cost the Palestinian treasury around 700 million shekels, Shadad al-Ateli said.

Al-Ateli told Voice of Palestine radio that Israel was not committed to water agreements under the Oslo Accords and the quantity of water the Palestinian side received this year was less than it received in 1995.

However he conceded that there were additional water problems being caused by poor management in Bethlehem. Officials are considering instituting a schedule for distribution to deal with shortages, he said.

In early June seven rural villages near Bethlehem endured about 15 days without running water. Local officials said the problem originated due to outdated agreements that do not account for population growth.

The Palestinian Authority is only able to use about 20 percent of West Bank water resources under the agreement with Israel. It is forced to buy extra supplies from Israel's Mekorot company.

Earlier this year the Palestinian water authority accused Israel of systematically destroying water infrastructure in areas under the control of Israeli armed forces in the occupied territories.

Water is one of the six final status issues to be resolved in any future peace agreement.
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