Re: EU must condemn Israel’s systematic violation of the right to water in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) at upcoming EU-Israel Subcommittee on Political Dialogue and Cooperation
Dear Mr. Christian Berger,
In view of the upcoming EU-Israel Subcommittee on Political Dialogue and Cooperation scheduled to take place on 5 December 2011, we, the undersigned Palestinian human rights organisations dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), would like to bring to your urgent attention the discriminatory distribution of water resources in the OPT. The grossly unjust system in place at present is overwhelmingly to the benefit of Israeli citizens in Israel and in settlements (built in the OPT in violation of international law), and results in the systematic violation of the right to water and in many cases in forced displacement of Palestinians.
The Palestinian population of the OPT has been suffering increasingly in recent years from a shortage of clean, safe water, which is directly attributable to Israel’s illegal water policies and practices in the OPT. These policies allow Israel to appropriate and exercise control over Palestinian water sources and are supplemented by the destruction of water and sanitation infrastructure by both Israeli military and the inhabitants of settlements. This systematic discrimination is widespread, resulting in extensive violations of the right to water for Palestinians, and continues to have severe impacts on Palestinian families and communities as well as their livelihoods.
Many Palestinian communities in the OPT survive on as little as 20 litres per capita daily (lpcd), which is the minimum amount recommended by the World Health Organisation for “short-term survival” in emergency and disaster situations. By contrast, many Israeli settlements consume 400 lpcd, with some, such as the Dead Sea settlements of Mitzpe Shalem and Qalya, enjoying approximately 700 lpcd. Indeed, Israeli settlers in the West Bank, with a population of over 500,000, consume approximately six times the amount of water used by a Palestinian population of some 2.5 million.
Israel is in clear violation of its obligations under international humanitarian law (IHL), which stipulates that the Occupying Power has a duty to ensure the general welfare of protected persons, which includes the occupied population. IHL also prohibits the forcible displacement of protected persons and the destruction of their property, such as wells and cisterns.
Furthermore, in its Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the International Court of Justice clearly stated that Israel’s obligations in the OPT extended to the International Covenant on Social and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Israel has rejected the application of these human rights treaties to the OPT and continues to violate their provisions, impacting negatively on the Palestinian peoples’ right to life, to adequate food and housing, to work and to health, amongst others.
For more information on this issue kindly see the report, ‘The Right to Water – A Policy of Denial and Forced Displacement in the Occupied Territory’, which focuses on access to water in the OPT.
Given that Israel is violating the basic right of Palestinians to water on a continuous and systematic basis, and considering the impact that this has on the health and lives of Palestinians in the OPT, we urge you to give this issue every consideration at the approaching EU-Israel Subcommittee on Political Dialogue and Cooperation. In addition, we would like you to highlight and condemn Israel’s continued rejection of international human rights law in the OPT.
On behalf of the Palestinian Council of Human Rights Organisations, I thank you for your time and consideration.
EU Advocacy Officer & Legal Researcher