Red-Dead sea plan in hot water

13 September 2011

Three civil society groups, including the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (PGAAWC) and the Palestinian Farmers Union, have filed a complaint with the World Bank’s Inspection Panel, its complaint mechanism, over the Bank’s feasibility study for a project to channel water from the Red Sea to replenish the Dead Sea (see Update 67, 58). Jamal Juma, of PGAAWC, said “the Bank’s refusal to seriously examine alternatives that restore the water flow of the Jordan River, and that can support the existence and persistence of the Jordan Valley communities in the area, invariably plays into the hands of Israeli attempts to forcibly expel them in order to illegally annex the valley and to colonise it with its settlers.”

Complainants also argue that the project would lock in ongoing violations by Israel of the Palestinian human rights to water and sanitation. Bret Thiele, Co-Executive Director of the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, also one of the complainants, said “this case illustrates the connection between human rights and environmental justice. It’s essential that the Jordan River alternative be fully explored, as existing studies have shown that that alternative could end both violations of the right to water and sanitation and environmental degradation.”