Israel’s illegitimate diversion of the River Jordan was the main reason behind the rising the tensions that ended fifty years ago with Israel's launching the June 1967 aggression on Egypt, Syria and Jordan and occupying the remaining Palestinian lands; the West Bank and Gaza. The majority of the youth generations does not know this and definitely cannot remember it.
What the world ignores is the fact that Israel's diversion of the River Jordan's water has reduced the water flowing into the Dead Sea, one of the World Heritage Sites, from 1400 million cubic meters annually to less than 30 million cubic meters.
For Israel has diverted 500 million cubic meters from the River Jordan's water to the Negev Desert so as to develop its settlements there and diverted other million cubic meters in order to meet additional demands without caring at all about the others' needs.
Thus, Israel has encroached on the water rights of Jordan, the Palestinians and Syria and created the problem of the Dead Sea dryness and the danger of its disappearance. This in its turn was used as a justification for the Two Seas Canal Project.
The important matter here is that, according to international treaties, the West Bank Palestinians' water rights in the River Jordan reaches up to 250 million cubic meters which Israel grabs it totally.
As for what's most important, the West Bank's water sources are equivalent to one thousand million cubic meters annually coming from both River Jordan and the underground water which are fed with rainwater.
According to specialised sources, this amount of water is enough to meet the Palestinian needs in the occupied lands for fifty years based on a consumption rate reaching 170 liters per person annually.
In reality, Israel through the force of military occupation seizes 87% of the Palestinian water in the occupied lands and devotes a large portion of it to illegal settlements. The Palestinians are obliged to buy a huge amount of their water, which Israel has usurped. Most Palestinian consumers pay double the sum paid by the Israelis in average.
In other words, Israel seizes 87% of our natural fresh water or about 870 million cubic meters annually and wants to sell us now 32 million cubic meters of desalinated sea water in return to exorbitant sums, according to the Two Seas Canal Agreement. How strange, some people see this as an achievement!
The Israeli settlements have depleted Gaza sector's ground water before leaving and through constructing dams holding the rainwater falling on the Hebron Mountains, Israel has prevented it from reaching the Gaza Sector’s basins.
Thus, 97% of Gaza’s water became saline as well as the collapse of the sewerage system caused most of it to be polluted.
As for the West Bank, Palestinians aren’t allowed to use more than 50 cubic meters annually, while illegal settlers are permitted to consume what amounts to 2400 cubic meters annually i.e. forty eight times to what the Palestinian consumes. This is one of characteristics of the racial discrimination regime which the occupation has established.
Hence, several villages and towns suffer from repeated water outages during hot summer days and some of which endure the outages for two months or more.
Even in the city of Ramallah, water isn’t available in most of the houses for more than once or twice a week.
Without ending the occupation and the Palestinians getting their human and water rights, neither the Two Seas Canal will benefit them, nor will it meet their strategic needs.
After the recent Jerusalem operation, Netanyahu attempted to deceive the world through claiming that it will not change the reality of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. However, he has actually changed it years ago. Therefore, he is depriving 90% of the Palestinians from the right to reach it and pray inside it. He will continue to change the reality in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa along with all what’s related to water sources as long as the international community is trying to adapt to his aggressive policies instead of confronting them.
The writer is Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative.