Israelis, Palestinians sign deal to jointly improve West Bank water supply
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Israelis, Palestinians sign deal to jointly improve West Bank water supply

Renewal of Joint Water Committee is fourth key infrastructure agreement signed between Israel and PA in past year and a half

File: Head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Yoav (Poly) Mordechai, and the Palestinian Authority’s Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh sign an agreement to revitalize the Israeli–Palestinian Joint Water Committee, January 15 2017 (COGAT)
File: Head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Yoav (Poly) Mordechai, and the Palestinian Authority’s Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh sign an agreement to revitalize the Israeli–Palestinian Joint Water Committee, January 15 2017 (COGAT)

Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed an agreement Sunday to renew cooperation in water development after a six-year hiatus.

Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) office, and the Palestinian Authority’s Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh signed an agreement to restart the Israeli–Palestinian Joint Water Committee.

The committee is tasked with developing and modernizing the water infrastructure in the West Bank, allowing better water access to Palestinian towns and villages, maintaining existing infrastructure and approving new projects. It hasn’t met in six years.

Created in 1995 as part of the Oslo II interim peace deal, the committee was originally intended to be a temporary mechanism lasting five years.

Key topics under discussion include increasing water supplies to the West Bank and Gaza, as well as approving drilling new wells and updating water rates.

The agreement was signed in winter in order to allow the committee to be fully operational when water demand is at its highest in the summer months.

The parties also announced that the two sides have approved a joint strategic planning mechanism that will operate until 2040, including new infrastructure ventures to deal with expected population growth.

Mordechai said the agreement shows it is possible to reach “understandings and agreements when dealing with practical, bilateral issues, free of external influences, dealing with natural resources and other infrastructure issues that affect the entire population.”

The latest agreement is one of four such cooperation agreements signed between Israel and the PA over the past year and a half. Previous ones dealt with electricity, mail and 3G phone service.

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