Palestine: Challenges to progressive realization in the Occupied Territories

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Publication Title

Palestine: challenges to progressive realisation in the Occupied Territories

Publication Type

Author(s)

Lara El Jazairi, COHRE Right to Water Programme

Publication Date

27 Nov 2008

ISBN-ISSN-EAN

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Contact

Contents

Summary

The State is the traditional human rights duty bearer and primarily responsible for respecting, protecting and fulfilling the human rights of its citizens. Under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights the State has the obligation to take steps 'to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognised in the present Covenant by all appropriate means'. This arguably includes the human right to water and sanitation.

However, within the context of the occupied Palestinian territories a number of challenges arise with regards to this conception. Palestine is not a State and the Palestinian Authority is not a signatory to the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Yet, the Palestinian Authority as the key actor responsible for service provision in the occupied Palestinian territories, has expressed its commitment to realising the human right to water and sanitation for the Palestinian people, notably through the explicit inclusion of the right to water in Water Law No.3 (2002) and the mainstreaming of human rights principles in water sector policy and strategies. However, the question remains as to what extent the Palestinian Authority can realise this right within the context of the occupation.

Impediments to the realisation of the human right to water and sanitation in the occupied Palestinian territories include the unequal and discriminatory allocation of water resources shared between Israel and Palestine to the detriment of Palestinians, Israel’s effective veto of infrastructure development proposals through the ‘Joint’ Water Committee, Israel’s punitive destruction of water and sanitation infrastructure, and ‘security’ measures such as the Wall, roadblocks and checkpoints which restrict access to water resources, services and facilities. In addition, the financial boycott of the Palestinian Authority, and the sanctions and blockade on Gaza, following Hamas’s victory in the Palestinian legislative elections significantly undermined the ability of the Palestinian Authority to provide an adequate service to the Palestinian population and caused further retrogression in the realisation of the right to water and sanitation. The author claims that responsibility for this retrogression of the right to water and sanitation lies primarily with Israel and western states participating in the boycott.

This paper thus examines the impact of the financial boycott and the occupation on the right to water and sanitation in the occupied Palestinian territories arguing that within this context the ability of the Palestinian Authority to progressively realise the right has been considerably diminished. In the light of this reality the second section of this paper will more fully explore the extent of the obligations of both the occupying power and the international community to realise the human right to water and sanitation of the Palestinian people

References

See also

Q&A: The Right to Water

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