UN expert: Israel denies Palestinians clean water

File Reuters

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Israel is denying millions of Palestinians regular supplies of clean water while scraping their land of minerals “in what seems to be a looting,” a UN human rights inquiry said on Monday.

Michael Link, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said Israel “vigorously continues to expand settlements” in the West Bank, which the United Nations and many countries consider illegal.

He added that there are between 20 and 25 thousand new settlers each year.

This came in a speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council, which the Israeli delegation boycotted because of what Israel regards as a strong bias against it. “In his latest comical report, Mr. Link descends to a new slope and accuses the Jewish state of theft,” the Israeli mission in Geneva said in a statement to Reuters. The mission accused Link of being a “well-known supporter of the Palestinians”.

The United States, Israel’s main ally, pulled out of the 47-nation council last year accusing it of pursuing an anti-Israel line.

“In Gaza, the collapse of coastal aquifers, the only natural source of drinking water in the Strip and now almost completely unfit for human consumption, is contributing to a major health crisis among the 2 million Palestinians living there,” Link said.

He said that despite the withdrawal of settlers and Israeli troops from Gaza in 2005, Israel kept an “air, sea and land blockade” on the sector overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

An international-sponsored project with a budget of $ 567 million has been agreed to resolve acute drinking water crises in Gaza by setting up desalination plants, but analysts say the project has years to go before production begins.

“For nearly five million Palestinians living under occupation, the decline in their water supply, the exploitation of their natural resources and the distortion of their environment are symptoms of a lack of meaningful control over their daily lives,” Link said.

Link said that Israeli quarry companies extract about 17 million tons of stones annually, “despite the strict restrictions imposed by international law on the economic exploitation of land occupied by the military occupation state.”

“Any Palestinian development of the Dead Sea and its abundant resources, part of which is within the occupied Palestinian territory, is prohibited while Israeli companies are allowed to extract minerals in what seems to be a looting,” he added.

Israeli authorities have previously said orders have been issued to close the Palestinian quarries because they lack safety factors and pose environmental risks.

Palestinian Ambassador Ibrahim Khraishi called on Israel to stop what he called the theft of Palestinian property. “Israel must stop this looting. What Israel is doing in the occupied territories is far from its obligations under international law and treaties.”

“This is even more than apartheid.”

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