UN calls for water equity between Israelis and Palestinians
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UN calls for water equity between Israelis and Palestinians

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The United Nations called for equitable distribution of water between Israelis and Palestinians, in a report delivered Friday during the 48th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“It is estimated that nearly 660,000 Palestinians have limited access to water, with 420,000 persons consuming less than 50 liters on average daily per capita, which is well below the 100 liters recommended by the World Health Organization,” the report stated.

It was authored by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet and her office. It was delivered by her office’s Director of Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division Christian Salazar Volkmann.

The report noted that the situation was particularly problematic in both Gaza and in Area C of the West Bank.

“Roughly 14,000 Palestinians in approximately 180 communities in Area C have no connection to a water network, are without water infrastructure, and are considered at high risk for water scarcity,” the report stated.

Sewage water flowers in Wadi Gaza, in the central Gaza Strip, September 26, 2021. (credit: ABED RAHIM KHATIB/FLASH90)

It called on both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to take steps to address the situation.

Left-wing Israeli groups have also recently focused on the issue of water. A broad-based coalition of NGOs held a march in the South Hebron Hills on Saturday to highlight the matter, and to bring a cylinder of water to Palestinians in that area.

The issue of water was raised during the Agenda Item 7 discussion. The UNHRC is mandated to hold a debate on Israel’s alleged human rights abuses during each of its three annual sessions, under Agenda Item 7. It is the only country against which there is such a mandate.

Israel has argued that Agenda Item 7 is one of the examples of UNHRC bias. Both the US and Israel have unsuccessfully pushed for the UNHRC to abolish agenda Item 7.

Mauritania on Friday spoke in support of Agenda Item 7, stating that eliminating it would only encourage Israeli “impunity.”

Israel, however, has made its case against Agenda Item 7 with most Western countries.

Out of all the European or Western countries, only Luxembourg spoke during the Agenda Item 7 debate, which included only some 40 countries.

During the debate, Russia and China called for an immediate resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process which has been frozen since 2014.

“We stress the importance of the quick launching of a substantive Palestine-Israeli peace process with the support of the Quartet of international intermediaries, which remains the only internationally recognized mechanism to accompany the Middle East settlement,” the Russian representative said.

She noted that Russia, which is part of the Quartet, “is ready for close cooperation with key regional players in order to find compromise solutions.” The other three members are the United States, the United Nations and the European Union.

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