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Cablegate: Goi Addresses Critical Gaza Sewage Issue

VZCZCXRO8006
OO RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHTV #3073 2971314
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 241314Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3807
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 8221

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 003073

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/ERA, EEB/ODF, AND OES/IHA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EAID IS
SUBJECT: GOI ADDRESSES CRITICAL GAZA SEWAGE ISSUE


1. (SBU) Summary. Embassy and USAID officers have engaged
GOI authorities to press for entry of pipes, pumps and other
equipment for an emergency World Bank project to address the
high risk of an environmental and public health crisis from a
Gaza sewage reservoir, but the Israeli response has been slow
-- especially given Gaza's new status as a "hostile
territory." World Bank President Zoellick has written to
Foreign Minister Livni and Defense Minister Barak trying to
assure access for the needed materials. GOI has now
permitted access to Gaza for nearly all needed project
materials. End Summary.

2. (SBU) On advice from World Bank regional staff, on October
10 World Bank President Robert Zoellick sent letters with
personal notes to GOI Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and GOI
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, asking for their assistance in
gaining access to Gaza for the equipment needed to implement
a World Bank emergency project to relieve pressure on Gaza,s
Beit Lahiya sewage reservoir (a 97 acre lake (about 3 million
cubic meters) of mostly untreated effluent from northern
Gaza). Oded Herman, Senior Advisor to MOD Pol-Mil Director
Amos Gilid, told Emboffs and USAID on October 12 that he is
willing to shorten the usual bureaucratic approval process to
permit equipment to cross into Gaza. (Note: Israel's MOD
controls all materials entering Gaza.) He requires a
complete listing of all materials, a detailed project
description, and further meetings to obtain transit permits.
In parallel, he will work with World Bank and other parties
to move the World Bank long term remediation project forward
in the usual channels.

3. (SBU) At a meeting on October 18 with USAID, Embassy, GOI
MFA and World Bank officers, Oded Herman reported that nearly
all materials for the World Bank short term project have been
moved into Gaza, and Bank Deputy Country Director Hadad
concurred and thanked the GOI for its action. He cautioned,
however, that access for supplies will continue to be a
concern as the long term sewage project moves forward. After
discussion of the risks and alternatives, consensus at the
meeting was that a USAID project remains necessary to provide
a margin of safety during the rainy season about to begin.

4. (SBU) A World Bank long term solution for new sewage
treatment capacity in Gaza, at a cost of 45 million euros
(USD 60 million) has been funded, but will take years to
implement. In the interim, the Bank plans to finish nine new
interim infiltration basins over the next several months. In
support of the Bank project, USAID is considering funding an
interim 2.4 hectare sewage basin with submersible pumps and
piping to transfer sludge between the sewage basins. Once
approved, the USAID project may take up to two months to
accomplish. Meeting that timeframe depends on importing the
necessary equipment into Gaza.

5. (SBU) Comment: The Beit Lahiya sewage crisis comes at an
inopportune time, when the GOI is trying to deny Hamas
resources to deliver services to Gaza residents in hopes of
turning their allegiance away from that faction. Unlike,
electricity or water, however, the deprivation of sanitation
treatment capability in Gaza could seriously impact Israel
too, and lead to pollution of the Mediterranean and public
health problems that recognize no border. GOI Environment
Ministry noted to EST office that Israel's sewage treatment
system receives effluent from PA areas, and improving PA
capability has to be seen in the larger regional scope.

6. (U) This cable has been cleared with ConGen Jerusalem.

********************************************* ********************
Visit Embassy Tel Aviv's Classified Website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/telaviv

You can also access this site through the State Department's
Classified SIPRNET website.
********************************************* ********************
JONES

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