Request Filed for Further Inspection of the Read Sea – Dead Sea Water Conveyance Program
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Request Filed for Further Inspection of the Read Sea – Dead Sea Water Conveyance Program

In July 2011, three civil society organizations filed a complaint with the World Bank's Inspection Panel regarding the Bank's studies for the Red Sea – Dead Sea Water Conveyance project that aims to divert water to the Dead Sea, which has been shrinking for years. The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR), the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop the Wall Campaign) and the Palestinian Farmers Union argue that the World Bank should be considering other alternatives which are less socially and environmentally harmful and that Palestinian civil society was not given the opportunity to participate adequately in the consultation process.

On July 15, 2011, the Panel asked the Requesters for clarifications on certain issues in the Request. On August 11, 2011, the Panel received a revised and more substantive Request for Inspection, which states that these residents "rely on ground water resources that are put at risk by the decline ofthe Dead Sea and which do not appear to be effectively addressed by the Red Sea Dead Sea Water Conveyance Program."

The studies being funded "are of such significance that they will likely be the basis for political decisions… Consequently, the application of the Bank's Operational Policies and Bank Procedures is crucial … to ensure that all relevant decision makers and the affected stakeholders have reliable and accurate information." Flaws in the Terms of Reference for and implementation of the Study Program "would result in inadequate and incomplete Environmental and Social Assessments."

Palestinian civil society "requires adequate and complete Environmental and Social Assessments, including a full exploration and examination of feasible regional alternatives." Furthermore, "an investigation of the Red Sea Dead Sea Water Conveyance Study Program to ensure that it comes into full compliance with the World Bank's Operational Policies and Bank Procedures."

Jamal Juma’, coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign, said: “We are disheartened to see the World Bank once again involved in a project that creates at least apparent sustainability for ongoing Israeli human rights violations.  Israel purposefully uses water theft as a means for forcible displacement of the indigenous Palestinian population. In addition to playing a major role in depleting the Jordan River, Israel deprives the impoverished Palestinian communities in the area of most of the remaining water resources. It has only recently announced the confiscation of additional 140,000 dunums of Dead Sea land, thereby further limiting Palestinian access to the Dead Sea, let alone economic development of its touristic and natural resources. The Bank’s refusal to seriously examine alternatives that restore the water flow of the Jordan River and that can support the existence and persistence of the Jordan Valley communities in the area invariably plays into the hands of Israeli attempts to forcibly expel them in order to illegally annex the Valley and to colonize it with its settlers.  With this project the Bank is not fighting poverty but the poor."

The Requesters also bring the human right of participation and the human right to water and sanitation to the attention of the World Bank, arguing that Palestinian civil society has not been adequately consulted and that the project locks in ongoing violations by Israel of the human right to water and sanitation rather than contributing to ending those violations.

On October 20, 2011 the Request was received in the Inspection Panel Register by Chairperson Roberto Lenton. Bank Management must provide the Panel, no later than November 18, 2011 with written evidence that it has complied, or intends to comply, with the Bank's relevant policies and procedures in relation to the RSDS Project.