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NGOs call on PA to withdraw from World Bank project

Oct. 21, 2013 12:09 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 23, 2013 11:26 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A coalition of Palestinian NGOs on Monday called on the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization to withdraw from a World Bank-sponsored project with Jordan and Israel, a statement said.

Palestinian civil society organizations demanded that the PA halt cooperation with the Red Sea - Dead Sea Conveyance Project, claiming that the initiative forces the "Palestinian population to consent to their own dispossession and to compromise on their own rights."

The RSDSCP was signed in 2005 and designed to save the Dead Sea from environmental degradation, to desalinate water and to provide affordable electricity for Jordan, Israel and the PA.

The World Bank describes the project as a "symbol of peace and cooperation in the Middle East."

Over 20 NGOs signed a petition calling for a rejection of the project.

"Any lack of a clear position by the Palestinian leadership on this outrageous project, any stand of ambiguity or positive criticism towards it, contributes to the impunity that for far too long has allowed Israel to appropriate Palestinian water and deny Palestinians their rights," a statement read.

The coalition of NGOs claim that the project undermines Palestinian water rights and legitimizes Israel's unilateral control of water resources.

The project also lacks "credibility and transparency" due to systematically ignoring Israeli violations of Palestinian water rights and failing to listen to Palestinian concerns.

The salty desert lake, some 422 meters below sea level, and its environs were designated as Area C, under full Israeli control, under the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Around 94 percent of the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea area is off limits to Palestinian use and development.

Endorsing organizations and individuals:

1. Palestinian Environment NGO Network (PENGON)

2. MAAN Development Center

3. Palestinian Wastewater Engineers Group (PalWEG)

4. Stop the Wall

5. Palestinian Farmers Union

6. Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ)

7. Land Research Center

8. Media Environmental Center

9. Palestine Hydrology Group (PHG)

10. Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC)

11. Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UWAC)

12. Environmental Education Center (EEC)

13. Institute of Environmental and Water Studies - Birziet University

14. Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)

15. Palestinian Environment Friends (PEF)

16. Arab Center for Agricultural Development (ACAD)

17. Earth and Human Center for Research and Studies (EHCRS)

18. Palestinian Farmers Association

19. The Arab Agronomists Association (AAA)

20. Prof. Dr. Hilmi S. Salem, Palestine Technical University - Kadoorie (PTUK)

21. Clemens Messerschmid, Hydrologist

22. Prof. Dr. Samir Afifi, Environmental & Earth Sciences Department, Islamic University of Gaza
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