New U.N. Report Blasts Israel's Water Policies

UN Report Strongly Condemns Israel’s Discriminatory Water Practices

Michael Lynk is a Canadian lawyer who currently serves as the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories.

His latest Report, dated March 15, 2019, is scathing about Israel’s unjust water policies:

“Water, and its effective control and management, is an essential component for the exercise of sovereignty in the modern world. Yet, as Israel’s 51-year-old occupation has become more entrenched, the deeply inequitable distribution of water imposed by Israel illustrates the utter lack of any substantive control Palestinians over their daily lives. With the collapse of the natural sources of drinking water in Gaza and the inability of Palestinians to access most of their water sources in the West Bank, water has become a potent symbol of the systematic violations of human rights occurring in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. While Israelis, including those living in illegal settlements, enjoy unlimited running water year-round, several million Palestinians endure water shortages caused either by contamination or by lack of access. The irony is manifest: while Israel has created world-class hydro technology for the creation and export of desalination plants, advanced irrigation systems and the recovery and productive recycling of wastewater, the Palestinian territory it occupies is water insecure. Indeed, the World Bank stated in 2009 that the Palestinians in the occupied territory have the lowest access to fresh water resources in the region, notwithstanding the fact that the Palestinian territory has ample water resources.”

After documenting the range of human rights abuses committed by Israel and its obligations under international law, the Report concludes:

“Israel has strayed extremely far from these legal responsibilities. Indeed, its temporary-permanent occupation of the Palestinian territory has been the photo negative of what is required of a faithful occupying power. During its five decades as occupant, it has appropriated private and public property without lawful authority. It has regarded the Palestinian territory as its own for acquisitive purposes and someone else’s territory with respect to the protection of the people under occupation. Its expropriation of Palestinian hydro resources breaches both international humanitarian and human rights law, and scorns the principles that underlie the right to water. Its usurpation of the territory’s natural resources and its disregard for its environment robs the Palestinians of vital assets that it requires should it ever achieve its freedom. The right to development in Palestine has become a dead letter. Can we not do the math to understand that these realities belie any visible path to Palestinian self-determination, and instead lead to a darker future that portends dangers to both peoples?”

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967*