J Street welcomes the announcement by US presidential envoy Jason Greenblatt that Israel and the Palestinian Authority have reached an agreement to greatly increase the supply of water to the Palestinian territory.
The water will eventually be supplied by a desalination plant linked to the Red Sea-Dead Sea Conveyance Project, which Israel and Jordan agreed to build in 2015. The plan is designed to bolster the levels of the Dead Sea while providing drinkable water to Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territory. While that project will not be completed for several years, officials said that Israel would begin providing more water to the West Bank and Gaza in the immediate future.
This announcement comes just days after an agreement between Israel and the PA to provide electricity to an underserved area of the West Bank and give Palestinians greater control over its maintenance and supply. Both are positive and welcome steps to better develop Palestinian infrastructure and support Palestinian communities. All parties must realize that these steps will not by themselves bring about a two-state solution or end the occupation, and they are no substitute for serious discussions and negotiations to resolve the core issues at the root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But as former Democratic and Republican officials have noted, they are helpful and important in building renewed trust and communication between the two sides, and good examples of how active US diplomacy can help bring Israelis and Palestinians together.
Moving forward, many more steps of this nature are needed to help develop Palestinian infrastructure and end the repressive restrictions of the occupation. In particular, the US must challenge Israeli and Palestinian leaders to take urgent action to alleviate the desperate and worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which has now been thrust into horrifying darkness due to the closure of its one remaining power plant. To save lives and help avert a new round of violence, policies that neglect or worsen the situation in Gaza must be changed.