Patrick Moser, Agence France Presse, Oct 27, 2009
JERUSALEM (AFP) – Amnesty International on Tuesday accused Israel of denying Palestinians adequate access to water while allowing Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank almost unlimited supplies.
Israel, the human rights group said, restricts availability of water in the Palestinian territories “by maintaining total control over the shared resources and pursuing discriminatory policies.”
“Israel allows the Palestinians access to only a fraction of the shared water resources, which lie mostly in the occupied West Bank while the unlawful Israeli settlements there receive virtually unlimited supplies,” Amnesty researcher Donatella Rovera said in a report.
Israel consumes four times more water than Palestinians, who use an average of 70 litres (16 gallons) a day per person, according to the report entitled: “Troubled waters – Palestinians denied fair access to water.”
Amnesty said the “inequality” is even more pronounced in some areas of the West Bank where settlements use up to 20 times more water per capita than neighbouring Palestinian communities which survive on barely 20 litres (5.28 gallons) of water per capita a day.
“Swimming pools, well-watered lawns and large irrigated farms in Israeli settlements in the OPT (occupied Palestinian territory) stand in stark contrast next to Palestinian villages whose inhabitants struggle even to meet their domestic water needs.”
Israel insists it shares common water resources with Palestinians in a fair manner, saying the Palestinians have access to twice as much water as the 23.6 million cubic metres (833 million cubic feet) they are allocated annually under a mutual agreement.
“Israel has fulfilled all its obligations,” the foreign ministry said in response to the Amnesty report.
The Palestinians on the other hand, it said, “have significantly violated their commitments” by drilling 250 wells without authorisation and failing to build sewage plants.
The Amnesty report pointed out that Palestinians are not allowed to drill new wells or rehabilitate old ones without permits from the Israeli authorities, which are often impossible to secure.
In addition, many roads in the West Bank are closed or restricted to Palestinian traffic which forces water tankers to make long detours to supply communities not connected to the water network.