TEL AVIV – The Palestinians are at fault for a water shortage in the West Bank because they refused to allow Israel to upgrade the infrastructure and are stealing water, the Israeli Water Authority said.
The current infrastructure cannot keep up with increasing demand, which has risen 40 percent since last year. The Palestinians have refused to sit down with their Israeli counterparts to resolve the issues that would lead to upgrading the system, the Water Authority said.
As a result, the Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee, established under the 1993 Oslo Accords, has not convened in over five years. Furthermore, the Palestinian Authority has not given permission for Israel to upgrade the system.
The Water Authority’s spokesman told the Jerusalem Post that the problem is compounded by water theft. Recently, Palestinians stole about 5 cubic meters of water.
The shortages have been felt most acutely in the Palestinian village of Sulfite. But Jewish settlements in Samaria have also been affected, with five settlements having to limit their water usage and another three without water entirely.
A Palestinian rights NGO, Adalah, on Sunday sent a letter to National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz, the West Bank Civil Administration, and the Mekorot Water Company charging them with withholding water from the Palestinians. Adalah added that if the shortages continue they will petition the High Court.
The water shortage has fueled libels that Israel is deliberately cutting off water supply to Palestinians.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the European Parliament last week that Israeli rabbis had called for Palestinian wells to be poisoned.
He later retracted the accusation and apologized, but not before receiving a standing ovation from the assembly.
The U.S. State Department, meanwhile, refused to condemn Abbas’ blatant lie.
The PA’s Foreign Ministry embarked on a televised campaign to spread the lie that Israel was poisoning wells with the express purpose of killing Palestinians “in their thousands.”