08/04/2010 15:32

Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau threatened to restrict the West Bank water supply if no sewage treatment plants were installed in the area, a UN alert warned on Wednesday.

The official reportedly told Israel’s Army Radio that “They get clean water from us, and in return they give us sewage. This destroys nature, and I would also say that this is the way that wicked people behave.”

According to a 2009 B’Tselem report, a joint 2007 study by Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority Environment Unit, Water and Streams Department in the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the environmental-protection staff officer in the Civil Administration, only 81 of 121 settlements in the West Bank were connected to wastewater treatment facilities.

“The result is that 12 mcm of wastewater from settlements is treated, while 5.5 mcm flows as raw wastewater into West Bank streams and valleys,” the report said.

Landau, however, told radio personnel that the amount of sewage treated in areas under PA control totals only five percent, compared to approximately 70 percent in Israeli settlements.

B’Tselem’s study found, however, that “During more than 40 years of occupation, Israel has not built advanced regional wastewater
treatment plants in the settlements to match those inside Israel.”

Although the Civil Administration prepared connections in the conduit for collecting Palestinian wastewater, no village has yet been connected to it, due to Palestinian refusal to cooperate in projects that may legitimize settlements.

Prohibitions on wastewater treatment center construction

According to B’Tselem, 90-95 percent of Palestinian wastewater is not treated at all, due in large part to issues surrounding the construction and maintenance of treatment facilities.

The report cites the need for Israeli approval on all wastewater treatment facilities, and Israeli Civil Administration approval on all facilities outside Areas A and B (designated under the Oslo peace process) as a major factor behind the failure to build two out of three planned treatment facilities.

The one facility that has been constructed, in Area B, is hooked up to the nearby Psagot settlement. “Although its wastewater is treated in the facility, the settlement refuses pay for the treatment,” the report said.