Shared vital ” water” resources: A Milestone of Cooperation

Press Release

WASHINGTON, December 9, 2013 – A milestone regional cooperation agreement was signed today at the World Bank Headquarters by senior Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian representatives. This agreement will support the management of scarce water resources and the joint development and use of new water resources through sea water desalination. The agreement, in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), was signed by the ministers responsible for water in the three cooperating governments: H.E. Minister Silvan Shalom for Israel, H.E. Minister Hazim El-Naser for Jordan and H.E. Minister Shaddad Attili for the Palestinian Authority.

The MoU outlines in broad language three major regional water sharing initiatives that will be pursued over the coming months by the cooperating parties. These initiatives include the development of a desalination plant in Aqaba at the head of the Red Sea, where the water produced will be shared between Israel and Jordan; increased releases of water by Israel from Lake Tiberias for use in Jordan; and the sale of about 20-30 million m3/year of desalinated water from Mekorot (the Israeli water utility) to the Palestinian Water Authority for use in the West Bank. In addition, a pipeline from the desalination plant at Aqaba would convey brine to the Dead Sea to study the effects of mixing the brine with Dead Sea water. In order to proceed with these actions, especially the desalination plant at Aqaba, technical work and studies will need to be undertaken.

The MoU is an outcome of the cooperation since 2005 between Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority on the Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Study Program. This MoU also represents a new initiative arising from the Study Program. This phase is limited in scale and designed to accomplish two objectives: to provide new water to a critically water short region; and the opportunity, under scientific supervision, to better understand the consequences of mixing Red Sea and Dead Sea waters. At this time, the specific role of the World Bank is to assist the three governments in moving forward with the activities covered in the MoU.

“I am pleased that the long term engagement of the World Bank has facilitated this next step by the three governments, which will enhance water availability and facilitate the development of new water through desalination,” said Inger Andersen, Regional Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, on behalf of the World Bank at the signing ceremony.

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Rabbis for Human Rights

PRESS RELEASE | 29 January, 2014

Rabbis for Human Rights presented a position paper to the Elaluf Committee summarizing the key reasons that people living in poverty do not receive the benefits they deserve, such that their situations worsens.

Last Sunday, Rabbis for Human Rights presented a position paper to the anti-poverty committee headed by Elie Elaluf on the phenomenon of unclaimed social rights among people living in poverty. The presentation of the paper is part of the organization’s advocacy effort to put the topic on the committee’s agenda, and to demonstrate that this little-discussed issue is a signification reason why escaping poverty can be very difficult , and why the situation sometimes worsens.

More on Elaluf here

The document (attached to this press release) was written by Rabbis for Human Rights’  Sigal Asher,  director of the Rights Center in Hadera,  based on her wealth of experience in the field. The document examines the main reasons for the failure of people living in poverty to claim the social rights, such as allowances and grants,  they are entitled. The reasons include cumbersome and confusing bureaucracy, inaccessible information, making one benefit conditional upon another, language barriers, negative social stigmas, personal desperation and more.

At a meeting of the Anti-Poverty Committee led by Elie Elaluf, Professor Johnny Gal noted that an estimated ten percent of people entitled to income support do not receive it.

Rabbi Idit Lev, Head of the Rabbis for Human Rights Social Justice Department:

“When you’re talking about people who live in dire poverty and are still unable to receive that which they are entitled to from the state, you find that this causes many people to despair and turns small problems, sometimes temporary and solvable ones, into a spiraling of emotional and financial crises which have no solution. Income support, for instance, is an allowance intended for people who have almost nothing.”

Rabbi Sigal Asher, author of the document and Director of the Rabbis for Human Rights Rights Center in Hadera:

“We see people every day at the Rights Center who live in poverty for whom, in addition to other hardships, the difficulty in claiming their benefits from the state and other bodies can make their lives impossible, and occasionally this is the factor which drags them down further into poverty. As a society we must look after people before they descend into poverty, and it is our obligation to help and assist those who live in poverty.”

As was published recently in a study by Professor Eldar Shapir [link in Hebrew], “poverty does not harm people with limited abilities; rather people’s abilities become limited as a result of living in poverty. The inability to claim benefits infringes on the most basic needs of life.”

If your brother becomes destitute and his hand falters beside you,” – Do not allow him to fall down. To what can this be compared? To a load on a donkey. While it is still on the donkey – one person can grasp it and hold it in place. Once it falls to the ground – [even] five people cannot pick it up.- Sifra (Malbim) Parashat Behar (Leviticus 25:35)

Rabbis for Human Rights has run the Rights Center in Hadera for people living in poverty since 2005. We assist the residents of Hadera, Wadi Ara and the surrounding areas in claiming the benefits they are entitled  to from state institutions (the National Insurance Institute, Ministry of Welfare, schools, etc.) and also from private organizations (such as communications companies). In that time we have accumulated extensive information about the difficulties people who live in poverty face in claiming their social rights.