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Palestinian Water Rights

Volume 586: debated on Monday 13 October 2014

The Petition of a resident of the UK,

Declares that the Petitioner believes that the Government of Israel is not respecting the human rights of the Palestinian people by failing to ensure that they have an adequate water supply.

The Petitioner therefore requests that the House of Commons urges the Government to encourage the Government of Israel to respect the human rights of the Palestinian people to adequate water supply.

And the Petitioner remains, etc.—[Presented by Tim Farron, Official Report,17 June 2014; Vol. 582, c. 1085.]

[P001360]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, received 7 October 2014:

I understand and sympathise with those who have signed this petition. I share their concerns regarding the situation of an adequate water supply for the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs).

The UK raises issues of water in the OPTs with the Israeli authorities, we last raised this issue with Israeli Ministry of Defence officials from the Co-ordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Unit on 22 April. We continue to stress the urgent need for Israel to take immediate and practical measures to improve the current unacceptable situation and ensure fair distribution of water in the West Bank and Gaza. The UK does not directly fund water projects in the OPTs since a large number of organisations already work on water and sanitation issues. However, UK support to the EU contributes to EU-funded projects in the water, sanitation and basic infrastructure sector.

There is a huge disparity in the way that resources are allocated, as Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers have seen during their visits to the region. For example, while an average Israeli settler uses 242 litres of water a day, an average Palestinian can only use 75 litres a day.

The fair and effective distribution of shared water resources across the Middle East is of great concern to us. These resources are limited and therefore require the effective co-operation from all parties to manage them in such a manner that ensures there will be enough for all.

Although this issue transcends the Arab-Israeli conflict, it is essential that Israel and the Palestinians discuss this issue and ensure that there is a just solution on shared water resources as part of any final status agreement.