700 Million Cubic Meters of Drinking Water Threatened by Pollution
2006-01-26
DESPITE THE RISE OF HAMAS, ISRAELIS, PALESTINIANS, DONOR COUNTRIES & THE QUARTET MEET TO DISCUSS SHARED GROUNDWATER POLLUTION

January 26, 2006

The Mountain Aquifer, the most important source of water for Israelis and Palestinians, is subject to ongoing pollution from hundreds of unsanitary dump sites on its sensitive recharge area.

Officials from Israel, the Palestinian Authority and donor countries, as well as the US representative to the Quartet, will meet on Tuesday, 31st January to discuss groundwater pollution and ways to alleviate it at a symposium organized by Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME).

A new report published by FoEME found that over 1 million tons of waste per year is dumped in unsanitary conditions, polluting scarce water resources shared by Israelis and Palestinians. The report, titled "A Seeping Time Bomb: Pollution of the Mountain Aquifer by Solid Waste", found that as the rampant pollution continues all sides share the blame.

"The restrictions on movement imposed by Israel; denial by Israel of the Palestinian use of preferred sites in area C; lack of vigorous attempts by the PA to implement the Palestinian environment policy, and lack of international funding and recognition of the severity of the issue are all responsible", said Nader Khateeb, Palestinian Director of FoEME.

Bringing together officials and decision makers from Israel and the PA, as well as the international community, the symposium represents a unique opportunity to resume cooperative efforts to prevent groundwater pollution for the first time since the Intifada.

"Israel and the Palestinian Authority failed to maintain the needed environmental cooperation" said Zach Tagar, from FoEME Tel-Aviv office. "By refusing to cooperate over issues of shared interest, both governments are failing their people who suffer from water and air pollution. Due to the strategic importance of water, it is crucial that both sides resume cooperation immediately", he added.

The symposium will be held at the Notre Dame Hotel in Jerusalem from 09:30 - 13:30.
FoEME is organizing a site tour of the Dir Dibwan (planned) dumpsite near Ramallah highlighting the pollution issue at hand.

Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) is a regional organization of Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian environmentalists that work on trans-boundary water and environment issues.

If you are interested in joining the site tour, or would like more information on the issue, please contact Mira Edelstein, 054-6392937, mira@foeme.org