Sept. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Israel will build a pipeline that doubles the amount of water sold to the Palestinian Authority for Gaza Strip residents, a Defense Ministry spokesman said.
The new pipeline will increase supplies to the Gaza Strip to 10 million cubic meters, spokesman Guy Inbar said today in a phone interview. The West Bank water allotment will rise by 4 million cubic meters to 57 million.
Boosting water supplies and building materials are among the steps that create a “more positive atmosphere,” said former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, representing Western powers supporting efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel increased construction materials allowed into Gaza as well and will provide more permits for West Bank Palestinians to work in Israel, Inbar said.
Some 90 percent of the water from an aquifer that supplies Gaza, home to 1.6 million Palestinians, is unsafe for drinking, the United Nations said in a report last year. That aquifer may become unusable in three years and irreversibly damaged by 2020 unless pumping stops and major infrastructure upgrades are made, it said. About 2.7 million Palestinians live in the West Bank.
The water and materials requests were sought by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the official Palestinian news agency Wafa said. While Gaza is ruled by Hamas, the militant Islamist group that took power in 2007, Abbas’s Palestinian Authority deals with Israel for supplies in Gaza.
Hamas, which seeks Israel’s destruction, is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union.
--Editors: Randall Hackley, Alex Devine