The Palestinian-owned National Beverage Company (NBC), which is also the local Coca Cola bottler , is to begin production of bottled mineral water for the Palestinian and Jordanian markets.

Its product, called Arwa mineral water, started production last month in the West Bank town Jericho, it was announced yesterday by the company, although no details of costs or output were disclosed.

NBC said that the main purpose of the mineral water was to create jobs for unemployed Palestinians who lost jobs in Israel after the eruption of the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation in September, 2000.

In press reports yesterday, NBC revealed that the company has employed unconventional methods of reaching markets in Palestinian-ruled areas which are under Israeli military blockades, distributing the product by tractor to use back roads inaccessible to ordinary trucks.