Water and Middle East Peace on World Water Day 2014
2014-03-21

MEDIA RELEASE

Water and Middle East Peace on World Water Day 2014

March 21, 2014
Tel Aviv, Bethlehem, Amman

On this World Water Day, March 22nd, days before the expected release of the Israeli-Palestinian Framework Agreement led by U.S. Secretary of State Kerry, Middle East water issues need to be on center stage.

Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director, EcoPeace/ Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) said, "A final agreement on water between Palestinians and Israelis has been held hostage to the status-quo for too long and can no longer wait. The current water arrangements between Israel and Palestine are outdated and have been failing the interests of both sides. Palestinians are not receiving sufficient water to meet their basic needs, and sanitation solutions are urgently needed in the West Bank and Gaza to prevent the continuing contamination of shared ground and surface water that threatens the health of both peoples".

Mr. Nader Khateeb, Palestinian Director of EcoPeace/FoEME, stressed the particular urgency in the case of Gaza, which is already in the midst of a humanitarian crisis due to the rapid demise of the Coastal Aquifer, its primary source of water for all uses. Current water abstraction from the Coastal Aquifer is almost triple the rate of recharge. As a result, salinity levels have now risen well beyond the World Health Organization's recommendation for drinking water, posing a threat to public health, particularly in infants. Salinity is further compounded by untreated sewage infiltrating the aquifer and eventually also reaching the Mediterranean, making its way north to Israeli shores.

He stated, "Gaza residents are drinking unhealthy water, and if no alternative solutions are advanced, they are about to run out of potable water completely. No security fence will hold back people who do not have water for their children and families".

The Lower Jordan River has also been held hostage to the conflict: the Jordan River is presently flowing at less than 5% of its historical flow due to diversion by Israel, Syria and Jordan and severely contaminated by untreated waste water and agricultural runoff from all sides.

Mr. Munqeth Mehyar, Jordanian Director, EcoPeace/FoEME said: "On this World Water Day we are delighted to release a draft baseline report for the first ever trans-boundary integrated NGO master plan for the Jordan River. The release of the report shows that when all three sides, Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli, work together, what seemed impossible, can in fact be possible, and in this case efforts towards the rehabilitation of the river can move forward."

For more information see http://foeme.org/uploads/FoEME_Baseline_Report_vs5_L.pdf

Or call:
Gidon Bromberg, +972-52-4532597
Nader Khateeb: +972-59-9606544
Munqeth Mehyar: +962-777-5484777