|JERUSALEM - Jewish settlers plan to turn the West Bank's largest quarry into a garbage dump, a move that could contravene laws governing occupied territory and imperil Palestinian water supplies, an Israeli newspaper said on Monday.|
Israel's Foreign Ministry said most of the details in the report were "factually wrong", but building the dump would not violate international law because it would serve both Israelis and Palestinians.
The daily Ha'aretz said a private firm was preparing the Abu Shusha quarry, between the Jewish settlement of Kedumim and the Palestinian city of Nablus, to receive 10,000 tonnes of garbage a month, though the Israeli government had not approved the project.
Haaretz said the dump, designed to provide a cheap means of disposing of waste from central Israel, would contravene international pacts banning an occupying power from making use of occupied land unless it benefits the local population.
It said the project could also pollute the Mountain Aquifer, one of the largest sources of fresh water for Israel and the West Bank. But Israel said the dump would pose no danger to underground water because it would obey the same environmental rules that govern waste disposal inside Israel.
Palestinians condemn all Israeli construction in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, territories captured in the 1967 Middle East war and in which they want to create a Palestinian state.
"We oppose any and all Israeli projects on occupied land," Palestinian Planning Minister Ghassan al-Khatib said, adding that the Haaretz report was being investigated.
Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres also voiced misgivings.
"If it is true ... I am certain that the military authorities will prevent this (project) and I will surely be one of those who oppose it unequivocally," he told Israel Radio.
Settler leaders were not immediately available for comment.
The US-led peace "road map" requires Israel to halt settlement construction in the West Bank and Gaza. President George W. Bush has backed an Israeli plan to keep large West Bank settlement blocs as part of any final peace accord.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE