Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | November 16, 2014

Speech by Engineer Yousef Awayes Director General, International Cooperation & Coordination Unit, Palestinian Water Authority at the International Conference on Sustainable Development in the Jordan Valley.

November 10th, 2014

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Good afternoon,

I would like to start by sending my personal thanks to Sweden and Swedish representatives here “the ambassador” for recognizing Palestine as State making it a reality after years of being neglected.DSCN6232

Ladies and gentlemen

It is of my real pleasure to be with you today to discuss a very important initiative, to build and strengthen cooperation among the people of the region. This initiative that has been brought by one of the civil society representatives from three countries really indicates the willingness of the people living in the area to take part in the implementation of “peace” instead of the overwhelming spirit of bitterness due to lack of justice as a result of unfairness imposed over a considerable part of the people living in the region who suffer from being neglected over a long period of time.

Despite the fact that this conference was planned to be a window to explore potential cooperation out  of political constraints but we do believe that it is almost impossible to put any stone in the peace building if the willingness of those representing their people is missed.

Dear guest, Let’s imagine that Jesus came back and saw the river where he was baptized, what would he say? What would we say to him?

Are we going to say: forgive us our lord; we killed the river to make the desert bloom?

Dear Guests: it is not acceptable anymore that this holy river and its boundaries, tributaries, fauna, soil and sky be killed once again because one or more entities living alongside it, want to enjoy the life based on their standers regardless the other’s needs.

This river and its boundaries have their standards too and should be respected by all.

It is not acceptable that the Palestinians are denied from enjoying what the god inherited them. It is not acceptable that Abu Sakher (a very poor Palestinian farmer with 13 children, living in a tent with their livestock) is denied from filling his three cubic meters water tank) and by the way he is living near the Jordan river while a two hundred meters from his tent not more than three hundred settlers are enjoying life in their swimming pools.

Dear guests:

We failed in the past because there is one who still believes that power and only power is the only warranty for his existence.

To this

I would like to remind that the Roman Empire is something from an ancient history; and Italy who led the empire is stronger now than before, and more certain about the future of its people. Stronger because now it is part of a big family named EU. When Italy faces challenges, all EU do their best to help. The same thing in Germany: who does not respect Germany now and take his hat off for its magnificent support to all needed people all over the world?

Cooperation is a magic word. So can we be brave for a moment?

I think; we as Palestinians proved to the entire world that we are brave; because we decided to live for the future of our people and at the same time recognize the same right for all people in the region to live in peace and prosperity.

Once again:

Let me express our unlimited support to any intention; try to strengthen cooperation, based on the right of all people in the region to equally enjoy the result of any intervention for the development of the region.

All the people of the region have the right to enjoy prosperity and to have the same responsibility to take care of it..

The so called lower part of the Jordan Valley is our common child, although we do believe that the whole basin should be looked as one entity, and the child can’t be split into pieces. However; to make any intervention successful, some key points have to be taken into account by all otherwise, the dream will turn into a nightmare.

First ….. the Palestinian state is a reality; and has been recognized by more than 139 countries, I take my hat off for them all, for their governments and for their own people and let me in this occasion once again, convey the Palestinian thanks and gratitude to the Swedish Government and its people for their recognition of the right of our people to finally live in their own state.

Second: the Palestinian borders, those of the 1967 borders and thus; the Jordan River lines our eastern borders.

Third: any security arrangements to achieve final peace should not affect the right of accessibility to the Palestinian people living in the region… security should mean security for all.

Fourth: the Jordan River is an international watercourse and as that term is defined in the 1997 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non –Navigational Uses of international water courses, NY convention 1997 which reflects customary international law. For us and for the international community, there is no Upper Jordan River or Lower Jordan River – It is a single entity and the terminology used is in-valid …

Moreover, Palestine is a riparian and has rights to the Dead Sea, to which it is currently denied. The Dead Sea, which is fed by the Jordan River, is in its own right an international watercourse since “parts of it are situated in different States” – namely, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine, where the borders between the latter two countries is delineated by the 1949 Armistice Line, also known as the Green Line.

Fifth: The Palestinian position emphasizes the right to access the Jordan River and all of its tributaries and maintain the rights to develop the West Ghor canal, to take its share from Lake Tiberias, given that, all the water in the lower Jordan River is brackish …

Palestinians maintain the right to develop these resources to meet the growing demand both in the West Bank including East Jerusalem.

Sixth: The Jordan River is a watercourse that flows into a common terminus, the Dead Sea. Parts of it are situated in different States: each of its principal headwaters, the Hasbani, the Dan and the Banias, rises in a different states (Lebanon, Israel and Syria respectively), and the Lower Jordan River, below Lake Tiberias, forms a portion of the border between Israel and Jordan, and between Palestine and Jordan, and thus parts of it are “situated’ in these countries. These five countries are all riparian to the Jordan River.

Seventh: The right to, and use of the existing shared water resources shall be allocated equitably and reasonably between the parties, in line with the principles of customary international water law.

Eight: For Water – related issues, independence, and viability in the region requires three elements:

  1. Recognition of Palestinian water rights and sufficient quantity and quality of water resources to support a growing and prosperous resident population;
  2. An international dispute resolution mechanism; and
  3. Management process that encourages accuracy, transparency, accountability and cooperation.

Before the end

I would like to take advantage of this conference in order to convey our deep thanks to Jordan represented by his majesty King Abdullah the second for everything, above all, having more than 40% of our people in his heart, giving them the most hospitality ever seen in other parts of the world.

To his majesty and to his people thanks and millions of thanks.

Also our thanks to the organizer of this conference, as well as to all guest attending this conference; those believe and support the right of our people to be part of this region; the international community, government, people, and NGOs also to all of them millions of thanks

Thanks to the EU main funder to this initiative, and to SIWI the implementing partner.

And finally to our lord Jesus

To whom we raise our hands and pray, promising him to do our best for not making him feel sad, when he comes back to baptize in his holy river.

Thank you all.

This post is contributed by Samar M. Salma, EcoPEace Middle East Media Officer at the Amman Office

Photography by Samar M. Salma  

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