Israel Defies World Bank, Refuses to Let Palestinians Use Landfill

Demands using site for settlements’ garbage too

Zafrir Rinat
Zafrir Rinat
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Zafrir Rinat
Zafrir Rinat

The Civil Administration refuses to allow the operation of a landfill funded by the World Bank and intended to serve the Palestinian population south of Jerusalem.

The administration is demanding that the Palestinians agree to let the region’s settlements use the site as well, but the Palestinians refuse.

The Al-Minya landfill east of Bethlehem was built in the last two years with funds the World Bank gave the Palestinian Authority. It is the first modern landfill in the southern West Bank, with means of sealing the earth to prevent waste from leaking into the groundwater. Another modern landfill, also set up with international funding, is already operating in the Jenin area.

Since Al-Minya is in Area C, its construction required the Civil Administration’s approval. Currently the waste from the Hebron and Bethlehem communities is dumped in pirate sites that constitute serious environmental hazards. Some Palestinian communities dump the garbage in open areas and occasionally burn it to reduce its volume.

Anti-settlement activist Dror Etkes said he visited the Al-Minya site this week and spoke to one of its operators, who told him the site is not operating even though its construction is completed because the Civil Administration insists on dumping the settlements’ garbage in it, too.

A spokesman for the the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said the Palestinian Authority, Civil Administration and World Bank advanced the landfill for the waste of the Bethlehem and Hebron regions, as well as for the communities near Jerusalem.

The spokesman said the Palestinians reneged on their agreement to operate the site as a regional landfill that would serve the Jewish settlements as well. For this reason the Civil Administration won’t let the site to operate.

However, the World Bank made it clear in the talks about the landfill’s operation last year that the funds it gave the Palestinian Authority are intended for the Palestinian population. Traditionally, the Palestinian Authority does not cooperate in the use of infrastructure facilities with the settlements, which it sees as illegitimate.

A few waste management sites, however, have served both Palestinian and Jewish communities. The Israeli Tovlan landfill in the Jordan Valley took in garbage from Nablus, a landfill near Ramallah served settlers from the area and the Carmel site in the Hebron area served Israeli communities as well.

BethlehemCredit: Ofer Vaknin

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