Israel is planning to dump up to 10,000 tons a month of its refuse in a quarry in the occupied West Bank in the region of the Palestinian city of Nablus.
The plan was revealed in company documents leaked to the newspaper Haaretz which said the plan to dispose of waste from Israel's Sharon region was a way to cut costs and increase the profits of the companies involved.
The report said use of land, close to the Mountain Aquifer, one of the largest freshwater sources in Israeli and Palestinian territory, means the companies will be able to pay 25 per cent less to dump the waste than it would cost on the Israeli side of the 1967 "green line".
The army's civil administration for the West Bank confirmed yesterday that it ordered a temporary halt to construction at the site after one of the companies involved, DSH, had dumped garbage without properly insulating it against a risk to water supplies. It said workers were removing that garbage to install nylon sheeting beneath the dump.
The private company is operating the new refuse system at the old Abu Shusha quarry in partnership with Baron Industrial Park, whose municipal owners include the council of one of the local Jewish settlements, Kedumim.
The civil administration insisted yesterday that the dump would take Palestinian as well as Israeli waste, that permission had been granted only on condition it served the two communities and that there would be "no danger whatsoever" to underground water supplies.
But Yossi Sarid, the left-wing Knesset member and former environment minister, told the newspaper the move was a "double crime", adding: "Israel is preventing the Palestinians from making use of the quarry and its resources and in exchange we are giving them the Sharon's garbage."
The Nablus council leader Najib Seha said Israel was "taking advantage" of the lack of co-ordination between Israel and the Palestinians." The army just implements its will," he added.
Legal experts say the landfill could violate international law, and Palestinians living near by fear the dump could poison them and their trees. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the plan violates international law.
© 2005 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd