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Israel’s theft of Palestinian water must be stopped

November 26, 2021 at 8:58 am

Palestinian children fill up gallons with water in Gaza City on 20 May 2021 [MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images]

Water is essential for life, which is why the situation is bleak for the people in occupied Palestine because Israel is stealing Palestinian groundwater as it seizes ever more Palestinian land for its de facto annexation by illegal settlements across the occupied West Bank. The occupation state controls the natural water sources in the occupied Palestinian territories; this is one of the most important of the less obvious aspects of the conflict. Groundwater is extracted from the Palestinian areas and pumped into Israeli cities for the benefit of the racist, apartheid occupation that kills life and people. Water security is vital for the future of the Palestinians; without it, all humanitarian, development and economic sectors are affected negatively, when they should instead benefit from Palestinian capabilities. This is why it is important for the Palestinians to control their own water sources if society and the economy are to develop and grow.

The international community must hold the occupation authorities accountable for this and other violations against the Palestinians. Such crimes are being committed openly; everyone knows about them, so there is no excuse not to act. Israel is taking advantage of the lack of action and continues to steal water from the occupied Palestinian territories, in violation of international laws and resolutions. The people of occupied Palestine have legitimate rights to self-determination, international action and the necessary measures to be taken in order to preserve their water sources and supplies. The legal processes are available; they must be used.

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The Palestinian Water Authority, government agencies and municipalities in Palestinian cities must challenge Israel’s open defiance of the law and consequent abuses, activate the demand for Palestinian water rights in international forums, and insist on the implementation of the decisions of the UN Economic and Financial Committee (Second Committee). Importantly, these include the fact that the Palestinian people have permanent sovereignty over their natural resources in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem. This resolution affirms and supports Palestinian rights and condemns the ongoing Israeli violations in the occupied territories.

The Palestinian people must be backed by the international community to exercise their right to self-determination, including their right to access, control and benefit from water as determined by Palestinian law. This naturally entails an end to all Israeli violations and theft of Palestinian water.

The water issue poses a major challenge given the growth of the population, which is expected to rise to 7.2 million people by 2030, according to the UN Environment Programme. There will be an annual water deficit in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip of around 92 and 79 million cubic metres respectively by 2030 unless the theft and control of Palestinian water by the colonial-occupation state is stopped.

The Palestinian people are committed to their rights, all of them, and will not concede any of them. They have the right to benefit from and use their water appropriately without any interference from Israel. The Palestinian Authority must expose to the whole world what the occupation state is doing so that the theft of Palestinian water is brought to an end and Israel is held accountable.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Addustour on 25 November 2021

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.