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Exploitation of Natural Resources

Exploitation of Natural Resources:

"Declaration on permanent sovereignty over natural resources", adopted by the General Assembly in resolution 1803 (XVII) of 1962, which clearly states that permanent sovereignty over natural wealth and resources is a "basic constituent of the right to self-determination".

The Israeli occupation involves both the theft and exploitation of the natural resources of the territories, primarily land and water. Israel has taken the entire Palestinian share of the water resources of the Jordan River and has diverted the resources from three major West Bank water aquifers to meet demands in Israel and in the settlements. Of the 600 million cubic meters of water produced annually in the West Bank, Israel, the occupying Power, draws 490 million cubic meters while the Palestinians receive only 110 million cubic meters. More than 40 deep-bore wells were also drilled in the West Bank for consumption by Israel. Towards the end of the 1970s, the occupying Power transferred responsibility over water resources from the military government to the Israeli national water company, Mekkorot.

The actual consumption throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory varies from 40 – 60 liters per person a day. Per capita water consumption in the West Bank for domestic, urban, and industrial use is only 22 cubic meters a year, which translates into 60 liters per person per day. The World Health Organization’s minimum standard for water is at least 100 liters per day, clearly the occupying Power is violating Palestinians natural right to water.

Article 55 of the Hague Regulations limits the right of occupying states to utilize the water sources of occupied territory. The use is limited to military needs and may not exceed past use. Use of groundwater of the occupied territory for settlements does not meet these criteria and therefore breaches Article 55. The average Israeli consumes for domestic and urban use approximately 104 cubic meters a year, or 280 liters per person per day. To make a more precise comparison, by also taking into account industrial water consumption in Israel, per capita use per year reaches 120 cubic meters - 330 liters per person a day - or five and a half times Palestinian per capita consumption.

The result has been a severe water shortage for the Palestinian population and a decline in agricultural output because Palestinian farmers have been forced to abandon their farmlands in order to find alternative means of livelihood. The dramatic fall in the proportion of the GNP and employment accounted for by agriculture is also a result of the enormous amount of agricultural land lost to the occupation authorities through confiscation.

The Occupied Palestinian Territory’s agricultural sector has not been spared from the ravages of the Israeli occupation. From the years 2000 to 2007, the Israeli occupation regime has confiscated approximately more than quarter of a million (254,932.6) dunums, razed 74,755 dunums, and uprooted over one million trees (1,188,132). These actions were undertaken by the occupying Power as part of its illegal policy of land confiscation for the purpose of settlement construction and expansion and the construction of the Wall among others. Indeed, the illegal aggressive Israeli campaign against this sector has markedly changed the topography and nature in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

In its July 2007 report, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) conveys this grim picture with painful accuracy. Using maps and up-to-date information, OCHA’s report, entitled “The humanitarian impact on Palestinians of Israeli settlements and other infrastructure in the West Bank” provides us with a shocking depiction of the outcome of Israel's destructive policies and practices, not just on Palestinian natural resources, but also on future generations of Palestinians.

For over forty years now, Israel, the occupying Power, has implemented a carefully crafted, systematic, and deliberate policy based on the illegal exploitation, diversion, and degradation of land and other natural resources at the expense of another people, their rights, future, and living standards. A policy that denies Palestinians the right to access their natural wealth and resources, and forces upon them a life of destitution and bitter deprivation, as they watch their drinking water diverted to saturate the needs of armed and hostile illegal settlers while they go thirsty and their agricultural produce is parched. Such a dangerous policy gravely violates Israel’s obligations as an occupying Power under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, particularly the Covenant of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, the applicability of which was reaffirmed in the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice of 9 July 2004.