The Palestinian Stop the Wall Campaign welcomes the fact that the World Bank management has acknowledged the concerns raised by the Stop the Wall Campaign, the Palestinian Farmers Union and the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in their Inspection Request to the World Bank regarding the Dead Sea Water Conveyance Study Program as “legitimate”. However, we deplore that the same decision expresses an insufficient interest in addressing these concerns and ask the donor countries to stop funding this project in order to reach a just and sustainable alternative.
In June 2011 the three organizations had submitted an inspection request to the World Bank Inspection panel highlighting potential harms created by the project and submitting proof of failures in compliance with the World Bank’s own operational policies and guidelines within the implementation of the Study Program for the Red Sea – Dead Sea Channel, also dubbed the “Peace Conduit”.
Far from being a tool to bring peace, the Red Sea – Dead Sea Channel is yet another project to create sustainability for Israeli violations of the Palestinian human right to water. One of the primary aims of the Channel is to stop the continuous reduction of the Dead Sea level caused mainly by Israel diverting almost completely the flow of the Jordan River upstream, before it reaches the occupied West Bank Jordan Valley. This de facto denial of access to water contributes decisively to the Israeli policies of forced displacement of the Palestinian population in the Jordan Valley and therefore severely undercuts the possibility for Palestinians to achieve their right to self-determination.
After an extensive field visit of the World Bank Inspection Panel, the World Bank has accepted the legitimacy of the arguments that the project implies “potential adverse environmental effects on the Dead Sea, potential adverse effects on sources of water for the population in the West Bank, and the issue of legitimizing current off-take of water in the Jordan River Basin and from the Dead Sea”.
Unfortunately, the World Bank does not want to enter into a full scale inspection of the study program due to the possibility that the concerns regarding potential harm and failures in compliance with World Bank policies and norms may be addressed in the last phase of the study and the possibility that implementation may be years away.
Stop the Wall strongly objects to this position and Jamal Juma’, coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign argues:
“There are no indications so far that the key issue of insufficient consultation with the beneficiaries or affected communities will be addressed. First, the World Bank consistently bypasses the fact that two of the riparians of the Jordan River – Lebanon and Syria – are not part of the consultation at all. Whatever the current political situation, the populations of these countries have rights that have to be respected. Secondly, the mere fact that the World Bank has long promised but up to date not published the report of the study program is yet another indication that the World Bank is still not ready to effectively engage with the affected populations.
“During its field visit, the Inspection Panel has heard the strong opposition of the people in the Jordan Valley to this project. Stop the Wall is fully backing their position and we will continue to defend their rights.
“This decision of the World Bank painfully reminds us of the decision of the International Court of Justice on the need for the Wall to be torn down and the obligation of the international community to end Israeli violations of international law. Yet, eight years down the road the international community still in many ways finances Israel and the very companies that are building the Wall. In the World Bank decision, the Palestinian position was once again proven right but we are highly worried that once again the international community will continue its complicity, in this case, mainly with the denial of the Palestinian human right to water. We therefore ask the donor countries - France, Greece, Italy, Japan, South Korea, The Netherlands, Sweden and the United States of America – to stop funding this project and redirect the money to international accountability measures and securing people's rights rather than thwarting them.”
Stop the Wall argues that the situation in the Jordan Valley is dire. The Palestinian population is at immediate risk of forced displacement, partially through lack of access to water caused and imposed by the Israeli occupation. Pressuring Israel to stop illegal excessive diversion of the water flow of the Jordan river is the cheaper, environmentally sustainable and legally correct solution. This alternative would restore the level of the Dead Sea, international legality and contribute to a lasting and just peace.
Inspection Request by the Stop the Wall Campaign, the Palestinian Farmers Union and the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: http://www.stopthewall.org/2011/10/26/request-filed-further-inspection-read-sea-dead-sea-water-conveyance-program
Inspection Panel Press Release: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTINSPECTIONPANEL/Resources/Press_Release_IPN_Rep.pdf
Inspection Panel Report and Recommendations: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTINSPECTIONPANEL/Resources/RSDS_Report_Recomm.pdf