Oil drilling site on the occupied Golan Heights. Photo from Afek Oil and Gas
UN adopts resolution on Palestinian sovereignty over natural resources
December 23/ 24, 2015
JERUSALEM — The United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday adopted a resolution demanding Palestinian sovereignty over natural resources under Israeli occupation.
The draft solution, “Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources,” was adopted with 164 votes in favour and five against.
Member states that voted against the measure included Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, and the United States. Ten other states abstained from the vote.
The resolution is the latest to be adopted through ongoing efforts by Palestinian leadership to take measures against Israel in the international arena following decades of failed peace talks.
The adopted resolution demands that Israel cease the exploitation, damage, cause of loss or depletion and endangerment of Palestinian natural resources, and recognize the right of Palestinians under military occupation to claim restitution.
A recommendation report for the resolution discussed Israel’s “extensive destruction” of Palestinian agricultural land and the economic and environmental repercussions of the policy.
The report cited the destruction of Palestinian water pipelines, sewage networks and electricity networks, noting that the elimination of “vital infrastructure” was at its most severe in the Gaza Strip during Israel’s military operations in the summer of 2014.
The UN General Assembly reiterated the illegality of Israeli settlement enterprise and its monopoly over Palestinian resources citing the “detrimental impact of the Israeli settlements on Palestinian and other Arab natural resources, especially as a result of the confiscation of land and the forced diversion of water resources.”
Water resources in the occupied Palestinian territory almost entirely under Israeli control under the Oslo Accords, and around 85 percent of water is allocated to Israelis, according to the Palestinian Water Authority.
The resolution comes as the European Union last month targeted Israeli exploitation in the occupied West Bank by boycotting products made in illegal settlements.
Palestinian policy network Al-Shabaka released a report shortly after the EU decision, citing that in addition to water, Israeli settlement activity has also dispossessed Palestinians from quarries, mines, Dead Sea resources, and other non-renewable natural resources.
The Israeli leadership has long condemned attempts by the Palestinian leadership to rely on international mechanisms in place of negotiations, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referring to the move in the past as “diplomatic terrorism.”
Israel begins drilling for oil in occupied Golan Heights, MEMO, February 2015
Huge Oil Discovery on the Golan Heights, Jewish Press, October 7th, 2015
How Israeli Settlements Stifle Palestine’s Economy, Al Shabaka, December 15th, 2015
Troubled Waters: Palestinians denied fair access to water, pdf file, Amnesty International, 2009
Water for one people only: Discriminatory Access and ‘Water-Apartheid’ in the OPT, pdf file, Al Haq 2013
Water supply and sanitation in the Palestinian territories are characterized by severe water shortage and are highly influenced by the Israeli occupation. The water resources of Palestine are fully controlled by Israel and the division of groundwater is subject to provisions in the Oslo II Accord.
Generally, the water quality is considerably worse in the Gaza strip when compared to the West Bank. About a third to half of the delivered water in the Palestinian territories is lost in the distribution network. The lasting blockade of the Gaza Strip and the Gaza War have caused severe damage to the infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. Concerning wastewater, the existing treatment plants do not have the capacity to treat all of the produced wastewater, causing severe water pollution. The development of the sector highly depends on external financing.
Amongst many others, Palestinian farmers fighting to survive, Al Jazeera, 2012 (loss of land and water to settlers in Jordan valley).