By transferring sovereignty over the Jordan Rift Valley to the Palestinians, Israel will grant them the right to some water from the Jordan River and Lake Tiberius under certain conditions, reported Haaretz newspaper, quoting experts on water rights and international law.
This highly sensitive issue is addressed in an opinion delivered by the General Staff and by the officials responsible for the negotiations with the Palestinian Authority on the water question, said the paper, quoting a military official.
The official in charge of water in Barak's peace team is Noah Kinarti, who was also involved in the talks with the Palestinians that led to the interim agreement on the water question.
According to experts, the transfer of sovereignty to the PA up to the Jordan River bank will have implications that go far beyond the security aspect of an agreement, said Haaretz.
"Sovereignty that includes the river bank will automatically entitle the Palestinians to part of the Jordan's waters, as is the case with the other two countries on the river's banks, Israel and Jordan," said one expert.
As a result, if the flow of water in the river is adversely affected, either in terms of volume or quality, Israel will have to give the Palestinians a quid pro quo from the water of Lake Tiberius, which flows into the Jordan River, the expert added.
"Consequently, sovereignty over the Jordan Rift Valley will give the Palestinians indirect access to the lake unless the final agreement stipulates otherwise."
In the negotiations with the Barak government, the Palestinians are demanding that the entire Rift Valley be transferred to them as far as the Jordan River bank, including the water rights, said the daily.
The Israeli position is that the valley will be considered a security zone for a predetermined period, at the end of which the sides will decide on the area's sovereignty, said Haaretz.
The Israeli negotiators, recognizing the fact that the Jordan Rift Valley, as it is defined today, represents some 22 percent of the West Bank, have expressed readiness to reduce the size of the security zone there - which would also affect the Israeli settlements in that area, said Haaretz - Albawaba.com
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