Israel will soon approve a deal worth up to $8.5 million for the environmental protection of Israel’s cities, and it will also provide $1 million for local NGOs, a senior government official said Monday.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, as he was not authorized to speak publicly.
The deal is part of an ambitious plan to boost environmental protection in Israel, where more than 50% of the population lives in communities of less than 1,000 people, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The country has also seen an increase in water contamination, especially from drinking water wells.
The new investment will be divided into three groups: $2.2 million to help local NGOs provide environmental protection for water wells; $1.9 million to strengthen a local NGO, known as the Green Belt Project; and $1,000 to establish a new environmental protection unit in the Ministry of the Interior.
A government spokesman declined to say how much money would be spent on each group.
“The ministry will work on this agreement in coordination with the Green belt project, which is an initiative under the Ministry for Water and the Environment, as well as with the environmental advisory committee and with NGOs,” he said.
The Green Belt is a project that was launched in 2006 to provide a green belt to all settlements within Israel’s West Bank and east Jerusalem, which has become a major source of pollution for the country’s water system.
The government plans to begin implementing the Greenbelt project this year.
Earlier this month, the Green party’s deputy chairwoman, Avigdor Lieberman, told Channel 2 that he would support the agreement, saying it would allow the government to take action against water contamination in the settlements.
The decision comes a month after the government approved a similar deal to increase the amount of money available to local NGOs for environmental activities.
In January, the Israeli government approved an agreement for the establishment of an environmental advisory board to improve environmental protection within Israel.
The agreement with the Israeli Green Belt Foundation includes the funds for the Green-belt project, but not a separate environmental protection committee.
According to the Green foundation, it has spent $50 million on the Green, which includes funds for water infrastructure projects, clean water projects, water quality improvement, water treatment and sewage disposal.
The funding is intended to protect groundwater resources in the occupied West Bank, and Israel has been working with the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain to ensure that water quality improvements are implemented.
Israel has been struggling with a chronic water shortage since the end of the 2014 Palestinian uprising, which forced the government and the Israeli military to relocate many of its settlements in the West Bank.
Since then, the number of water wells has increased significantly.
In November, Israel approved a new settlement plan that includes the establishment and construction of the Green Wall in the central West Bank city of Nablus, which was the scene of a violent clash in August 2016 between Israeli settlers and Palestinian protesters.
Israel will also build a network of underground water pipes that will provide water for residents in settlements and the occupied territories, as the government plans.