Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Silvan Shalom banned water connection to the new West Bank Palestinian city of Rawabi, which is to house around 40,000 Palestinian families, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported yesterday.
Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon and the Coordinator of the Israeli Government Activities in the Palestinian Territories Major General Yoav Mordechai had ordered the Israeli Water Authority to provide water to the city.
However, Shalom refused Ya’alon’s instruction saying that water and sewage projects in the West Bank require Israeli-Palestinian Join Water Committee’s (JWC) approval.
Shalom blamed the Palestinians, calming they have been refusing to convene the committee since 2010. The response from Shalom’s office stated that according to an agreement with the Palestinians singed in 1995, the committee is the principal party which decides on such issues in the West Bank communities.
Haaretz reported the Palestinian side confirming that the committee had not convened since 2010, but they insisted this does not justify the ban to connect water to the city.
The head of project department in the Palestinian Water Authority Ihab Al-Barghouti said: “The reason why the committee has not convened was the Israeli condition that the committee must approve an Israeli settlement project in return of any approval of any Palestinian project.”
Al-Barghouti insisted that the Palestinians refused this condition, thus, they do not attend the committee’s meetings.