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2017-07-14 digital edition
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July 14, 2017  RSS feed
World News

Text: T T T

Israeli-Palestinian water deal inked

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel and the Palestinian Authority announced an agreement that will see an increase of up to 30 million cubic meters of fresh water going to the Palestinians.

Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East, brokered the deal July 13 as part of a larger trilateral agreement including Jordan for the construction of a 137-mile pipeline to bring water from the Red Sea to help the Dead Sea. The pipeline also will power a water desalinization plant that will provide the additional fresh water. Israel will sell the water to the Palestinian Authority.

Earlier in week, Greenblatt brought new U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman to a meeting with Palestinian officials in Jerusalem. Including Friedman marks a shift in U.S. policy in place during both Bush and Obama administrations that viewed the American consul in Jerusalem as responsible for relations with the Palestinians and the ambassador in Tel Aviv as responsible for relations with Israel.

The Palestinian peace negotiators reportedly requested that the meeting be held in Jerusalem because they did not want Friedman, a supporter of Israeli settlements and the U.S. official tapped to deal with Israel, to come to Ramallah, the capital of the Palestinian Authority.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters that the Palestinian negotiators “welcomed” Friedman, and that his presence at the meeting “raises the level and indicates just how important it is for this administration to try to come to some sort of peace agreement.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly refused to host Friedman in Ramallah last month during a visit by Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and Jewish son-in-law, according to reports. The Trump administration reportedly later pushed to include Friedman in such meetings.

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