Palestine would lose between 550 to 600 million cubic meters of water in the case Israel annexes the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, in addition to not less than $3.5 billion in loss of economic opportunities, today said Mazen Ghoneim, head of the Palestinian Water Authority.
He told Palestine TV that the economic opportunities that will be lost include loss of 73,000 job opportunities in addition to losses to the agriculture sector.
“If the annexation is implemented, it will lead to an increase in imports, a decrease in the percentage of the agricultural sector’s contribution to the national product, and an increase in unemployment among farmers,” said Ghoneim.
He pointed out that Israel sought to postpone an agreement on water and moved it to final status issues in order to complete its plans and to control all the water sources in Palestine. Today, he said, Israel controls more than 85% of the water sources in Palestine, whether from underground water or by overdrawing through wells and springs in different basins.
Ghoneim indicated that the average Palestinian’s share of water is 83 liters per day, although the World Health Organization has set 100 liters per day as a minimum, and there is a disparity in the water consumption of individuals according to their areas of residence. While the Israeli settler gets at least 400 liters of water per day, and often more than that, the Palestinian in the south of the country gets no more than 23 liters of water a day.
He pointed out that in Gaza the per capita share is 22 liters per day because 97% of the coastal aquifer is not fit for human use. As a result, the Water Authority is working on a water desalination plant project in Gaza to overcome this crisis.
With regard to the Palestinian water basins, he said the eastern basin is completely located inside the Palestinian territory and therefore Palestine will lose 44% of the eastern basin if the annexation plan is implemented, pointing out that most of the dams will be located in the annexed parts, which will affect Palestinians’ ability to build dams to take advantage of rainwater.
Ghoneim said the Dead Sea is 54 kilometers long, of which 18 kilometers are in Israel and 36 kilometers in the West Bank, which means if Israel controls it, Palestine would lose the right to be a country sharing the Dead Sea in the Med-Dead Canal project, which is supposed to benefit Palestine, Jordan, and Israel.
The Water Authority head said Israel has diverted the Jordan River water that was flowing into the Dead Sea, which led to its drying up as the water level goes down one meter every year. He said Israel makes billions of dollars from its use of the Dead Sea minerals while the Palestinians are unable to benefit from it even though it is a riparian state, yet it cannot reach its shores.
He said international studies showed that Dead Sea and the River Jordan tourism could bring to the Palestinians some $900 million in revenues annually, in addition to the possibility of creating hundreds of job opportunities.