Palestinians Seek to Politicize Climate Conference With Anti-Israel Claims

YERUSHALAYIM -
King Mohammed VI of Morocco (2nd L) arrives at the U.N. Climate Change Conference 2016 (COP22) in Marrakesh, Morocco, on Wednesday. (Reuters/Youssef Boudlal)
King Mohammed VI of Morocco (2nd L) arrives at the U.N. Climate Change Conference 2016 (COP22) in Marrakesh, Morocco, on Wednesday. (Reuters/Youssef Boudlal)

Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin fought back against Palestinian claims that Israel was polluting the region, at the United Nations climate conference in Marrakesh on Wednesday night.

“It is sad that the Palestinians have chosen to take advantage of this platform not as a forum for unifying professional discussion but rather for making unrestrained and completely untrue claims, which we completely reject,” Elkin was quoted by The Jerusalem Post as saying.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah had blamed Israel for running factories polluting Yehudah and Shomron, in a deliberate effort to harm civilians by causing environmental damage. Hamdallah demanded a U.N. investigation of Israeli environmental policy.

Elkin rejected Hamdallah’s accusations, asserting that, on the contrary, it is the Palestinian Authority which has been polluting the environment.

“A cement factory has been set up in a nature reserve which endangers the surrounding population and the reserve itself,” the minister said. “The local population has turned to Israel for assistance as the cement factory is being promoted by the PA through two of Mahmoud Abbas’s sons who are not willing to take into account the environmental effects or the possible damage to the population.”

“We will not be pulled into politicization of this important forum,” Elkin said. “There are many other platforms for that political debate.”

Elkin outlined Israel’s climate initiatives, including the setting of targets, such as a 26 percent reduction in its 2005 greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 — limiting residents to 7.7 tons of carbon dioxide per capita.

The Israeli government approved a program in September 2015 that makes renewable energy resources responsible for 17 percent of the country’s electricity mix by 2030, as well as reducing overall electricity consumption by the same percentage. The plans also include a 20 percent decrease in private vehicle usage.

The annual U.N. Conference on Climate Change — Conference of Parties 22 (COP-22) runs to November 18 in Marrakesh, Morocco.