Israel’s control over natural resources is “making Palestinian economic development an impossible mission”.

Under the Israeli occupation, the Palestinian people have been denied access to and control over their land and natural resources, especially water, for decades. “Several studies estimate that the benefits for Israelis from natural resources in Palestinian territories amount to more than US$70 billion since 1967,” said the Chairperson of PENGON – Friends of the Earth Palestine, Dr. Abedelrahman Tamimi, in an interview with Real World Radio. Tamimi is also member of the Palestinian Hydrology Group (PHG).

Tamimi highlighted that nowadays, Israel controls 62% of the land – in particular agricultural land – in the Jordan Valley, and 80% of the Palestinian water, in addition to natural gas in Gaza. “If we take all these things together, this is not only benefiting Israelis, but also making the Palestinian economic development an impossible mission,” added Tamimi.

The expert in the field of water resource management and water policies also denounced that fact that since 1967, Israel has been using the natural resources in the Dead Sea, and that they are exporting all minerals and cosmetic materials produced from the Dead Sea to the international market, disregarding the rights of the Palestinian People. In addition to controlling the Dead Sea, Israeli authorities consider the Jordan River basin to be a security zone and prohibit Palestinians from using the Jordan River for their agricultural practices or any other use. “Water is under the full control of Israeli military officers,” he declared.

As recently highlighted in a webinar titled “Palestine: the struggle for food sovereignty under occupation,” held on 5 October by La Vía CampesinaFIAN, Friends of the Earth International, the UAWC and PENGON, access to water in Palestine constitutes a human rights violation issue, as water is not only scarce, but 97% of the water that is available in Gaza is not fit for human consumption.

“Palestinian agricultural land is shrinking because of Israeli confiscation policies and the expansion of Israeli settlements, particularly in the North of the West Bank and the Jordan valley,” added Tamimi, and this particularly affects women: “Women suffer more from Israeli practices because they are responsible for working in agriculture, and responsible for obtaining domestic water. The occupation controls more than 80% of water resources, which makes the water unavailable and inaccessible to the Palestinian women,” he denounced.

With reference to the role of the international community, Tamimi said that the Palestinian people have always relied on the support of the international community, and highlighted the importance of demanding dignity for the Palestinian people. “Palestinians are looking to the international community to ask the Israelis to respect their human rights in all norms, to leave the Palestinians to live their lives as they want,” he concluded.