Calls for the international community to impose legal mechanisms on Israeli violations of Palestinian water rights

Two Palestinian officials on Tuesday called on the international community to impose legal mechanisms on Israel's violations of Palestinian water rights under international law.

In a speech during a legal symposium organized in Ramallah under the title (Israeli Violations of Water Rights), Justice Minister Muhammad Shalalda accused Israel of violating the water rights of the Palestinian people in violation of all principles of international humanitarian law and United Nations resolutions.

Shalalda said that all parties are required to work to find legal mechanisms "to hold Israel accountable to the international community for its ongoing violations against the Palestinian people, their rights to water and natural resources."

In turn, the head of the Water Authority, Mazen Ghoneim, affirmed in a speech his authority's continuous efforts to confront the Israeli "challenges and violations" and activate the demand for Palestinian water rights in international forums.

Ghoneim called for work to develop recommendations that draw a road map for regional and international action based on the recommendations of the report of the United Nations Committee on Economic and Financial Issues, the Second Committee last week, on Palestine's sovereignty over its natural resources that would be able to limit Israeli violations.

Ghoneim warned against continuing Israeli violations in light of the increasing demand for water in Palestine as a result of population growth, where the population is expected to rise to 7.2 million people by 2030.

According to the forecasts of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), there will be an annual water deficit in Gaza and the West Bank of about 79 and 92 million cubic meters, respectively, by 2030 unless the quantities available to the Palestinians are increased.

Ghoneim stressed the Palestinian leadership's adherence to water rights, in accordance with relevant international laws and conventions, and this requires searching for mechanisms capable of mobilizing international public opinion towards the human rights of water in Palestine and activating the role of human rights organizations and institutions of the international community.

He called for redoubled work at all levels with partners to mobilize international support to ensure "exposing violations" and placing them within the legal framework binding Israel to stop its policies in looting Palestinian waters.

The water file is one of the main negotiations issues between the Palestinians and Israel in the peace talks that have been stalled since the first half of 2014 without any prospect of resuming them soon to resolve the decades-old conflict.

It is noteworthy that the water sources in Palestine and Israel are the Jordan River, Lake Houla, which was drained by Israel, Lake Tiberias, the Lower Jordan River, then the Dead Sea and the Gaza Valley, which extends from the southern West Bank and the Hebron Mountains through Israel to the Gaza Strip.

As for the shared groundwater, it is the mountain basin, which was divided according to the Oslo agreement into three basins: the eastern and northeastern in Tubas and Jenin in the West Bank, and the western basin, which is one of the most important main basins and extends from Tulkarm and Qalqilya to Hebron, while the coastal basin is located on the Mediterranean Sea to the bottom of the Gaza Strip.

There are unshared Israeli basins with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, such as the Negev, the Carmel and Tiberias. In addition to the shared basins, all of them are under Israeli control.

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