Israeli occupation authorities are set to establish a waste-to-energy plant in Ma'ale Adumim, a major illegal settlement in the central West Bank, according to human rights NGO B'Tselem, "unlawfully exploiting Palestinian territory for its own needs".
Earlier this month, the Israeli government issued a tender for the establishment of the plant, at an estimated cost of some one billion shekels ($284 million).
B'Tselem noted that while such a development appears "ecologically positive", building the plant in the West Bank is violation of "the prohibition in international law on exploiting resources in an occupied territory for the benefit of the occupying power".
Furthermore, the human rights group added, "if established, the plant will be built without taking the Palestinian population of the West Bank and its views on the matter into account."
The plant will be located close to the Mishor Adumim industrial park, between occupied East Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, within the jurisdiction of Ma'ale Adumim settlement. Near the site are "small, isolated Palestinian shepherd communities".
All Israeli settlements and associated activity are illegal under international law.
The mayor of Ma'ale Adumim settlement, Benny Kashriel, has stated that the new plant will serve "major parts of Israel" and should therefore become "a national project".
The plant is set to open in 2025 and, according to Ma'ale Adumim officials, "the plant will service local authorities that consist of some 1 million people, including Palestinian authorities."
However, "the specific authorities have not yet been named, other than the city of Jerusalem and the settlement of Ma'ale Adumim."
According to B'Tselem, "for many years, Israel has been taking advantage of its power as occupier to transfer the treatment of waste (including hazardous waste) and sewage from its sovereign territory to the West Bank."
The occupied Palestinian population "are the ones to pay the price for this environmental damage, even though they were never asked their opinion on the matter and although, as a population under occupation, they have no political power and no real ability to resist," the NGO added.
B'Tselem also highlighted an agreement signed this year between Israel and the European Union, "guaranteeing Israel approximately 1.5 million euros [$1.67 million] over the next two years to support the Ministry of Environmental Protection's implementation of its 2030 strategic plan".
While the agreement contains a clause "that stipulates that it will not apply beyond Israel's 1967 borders", the EU's backing for the ministry's strategic plan – "which defines the establishment of the plant at Ma'ale Adumim as a goal" – empties "this annex of meaning".
Thus, the EU "will be supplying Israel with knowledge and experience that will help deepen its exploitation of Palestinian land resources and bolster the economic status of the Ma'ale Adumim settlement."