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Palestinian NGO statement on the World Bank-sponsored Red-Dead Sea Canal

 

The undersigned Palestinian NGOs call on the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to
halt all forms of cooperation with the World Bank-sponsored Red Sea –
Dead Sea Conveyance Project (RSDSCP) and to take an unequivocal public
stance of rejection to the project. It has become clear beyond doubt
that the project is an unacceptable attempt to force the Palestinian
population to consent to their own dispossession and to compromise on
their own rights. Any lack of a clear position by the Palestinian
leadership on this outrageous project, any stand of ambiguity or
positive criticism towards it, contributes to the impunity that for far
too long has allowed Israel to appropriate Palestinian water and deny
Palestinians their rights.

 

Five reasons why the RSDSCP must be rejected:

 

  1. The project undermines Palestinian water rights and legitimizes Palestinian dispossession from the Jordan River. Israel
    unilaterally controls the flow from the upper Jordan River and prevents
    Palestinians from making use of their rightful share of the lower
    river’s water. This is the sole cause for the gradual disappearance of
    the Dead Sea. Instead of addressing Israel’s water theft, the project
    aims to maintain the unjust status-quo of the river and allegedly “save”
    the Dead Sea through large scale Red Sea water transfer.
  2. The project attempts to replace the river’s
    natural fresh water appropriated by Israel from the upper Jordan River
    with desalinated Red Sea water sold at high costs to severely
    water-dispossessed Palestinians and at pitiful quantities.
     Even
    these sales remain merely an “option” and the World Bank studies plan
    to ‘supply’ only Jericho, which is currently the only water-rich place
    in the occupied West Bank. With every drop of water that Palestinians purchase, they capitulate to their own deprivation.
  3. Neither
    the World Bank’s Feasibility Study (FS) nor its Environmental &
    Social Assessment study (ESA) address the grave damage to the West Bank
    Eastern Aquifer, currently the only source Palestinians have for water
    supply and development.
     The
    Eastern aquifer is rapidly depleting, and its water table is dropping
    at an alarming rate – both as a direct result of the shrinking Dead Sea.
    Consenting to the project entails closing an eye to the rapid
    destruction of the only other water resource in the Eastern West Bank.
    Instead, Israel should be held accountable for the damage it caused to
    this vital resource on which over 1 million Palestinians currently
    depend.
  4. Far from “saving the Dead Sea”, the RSDSCP will actually destroy the unique features of the Dead Sea and its ecosystem. 
    Under the project, the Dead Sea is slated to turn into a dead,
    engineered pool of Red Sea water and desal brines, destroying this
    Palestinian and world heritage site.
  5. Both
    Red-Dead studies (FS & ESA) and the entire conduct of the World
    Bank lack credibility and transparency, and make a mockery of the
    alleged consultation and participation process
    .
    Throughout the process, the Bank has systematically turned a blind eye
    to Israeli violations of Palestinian water rights. The Bank repeatedly
    and deliberately ignored key concerns expressed by Palestinians since
    the project’s inception and during the “consultation” meetings in severe
    breach of its very own Code of Conduct, as well as the project’s Terms
    of Reference. In addition, the Bank management has so far refused to
    make public the results of the Feasibility and ESA studies. The World
    Bank’s actions are tantamount to a cover-up.  

 

Palestinian civil society
organizations reiterate their rejection of the Red Sea – Dead Sea
Conveyance Project and invite Palestinians of all walks to demand that
the 
PLO and
the PNA honor their aspirations for self-determination and justice by
voicing a clear, loud and unequivocal “No!” to the Red-Dead Sea scam.
This project can only result in further damaging and undermining
Palestinian water rights and all cooperation with it should cease
immediately.
 Reparation and compensation for past damages and respect for Palestinian water rights are long overdue and the only way forward.

 

Endorsing organizations and individuals:

  1. Palestinian Environment NGO Network (PENGON)

  2. MAAN  Development Center
  3. Palestinian Wastewater Engineers Group (PalWEG)
  4. Stop the Wall
  5. Palestinian Farmers Union
  6. Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ)
  7. Land Research Center
  8. Media Environmental Center
  9. Palestine Hydrology Group (PHG)
  10. Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC)
  11. Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UWAC)
  12. Environmental Education Center (EEC)
  13. Institute of Environmental and Water Studies – Birziet University
  14. Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)
  15. Palestinian Environment Friends (PEF)
  16. Arab Center for Agricultural Development (ACAD)
  17. Earth and Human Center for Research and Studies (EHCRS)
  18. Palestinian Farmers Association
  19. The Arab Agronomists Association (AAA)
  20. Prof. Dr. Hilmi S. Salem, Palestine Technical University – Kadoorie (PTUK)
  21. Clemens Messerschmid, Hydrologist

  22. Prof. Dr. Samir Afifi, Environmental & Earth Sciences Department, Islamic University of Gaza