Discussing Means to Secure Palestinian Access to Natural and Agricultural Resources

November 10, 2014 OPINION/NEWS

Farm1

 

By

Anant Mishra

The Palestinian Territories, consisting of the Gaza Strip along the Mediterranean coast and the West Bank covering the hills between the coastal plain east to the Jordan River and Dead Sea (Palestine), contain several important natural and agricultural resources.

Although it maintains a high population density, particularly in the Gaza Strip, Palestine is home to a significant amount of agriculture. Grapes, almonds, fruit; olives, citrus, vegetables, and grains are all grown in Palestine, both with rain-fed and irrigated agriculture. In addition to land, water is an important natural resource to consider regarding this topic. Other natural resources are less abundant, though potentially significant as a source of revenue for Palestine and Palestinians, such as quarries, potash mining, or marine resources like fishing.

 

History of Topic in the Arab World       

Palestinian access to the natural and agricultural resources that lie in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has been severely limited, largely by restrictions in place under Israeli law such as convoluted permit laws, restrictions to investment, restrictions on trade, and restricted land access. It is essential to understand that Palestine in practice is divided into three categories of land, parcelling out the territories into non-contiguous pieces – Areas A, B, and C. Area A is under full Palestinian control, and largely consists of built-up urban areas. Area B is under Israeli military control and Palestinian civil control, and Area C is under full Israeli control. Only about 40% of the West Bank falls into Areas A and B, leaving 60% under the full control of Israel including the natural resources held therein.

For example, across Israeli controlled Palestine, it is very difficult to obtain permits to repair or build wells, or even build water storage structures. Any structure without a permit is liable to be demolished by the authorities. Israel controls 90% of the water resources of the groundwater aquifers it shares with Palestine, and Israelis consume four times more water per person than Palestinians. Palestinian demand for water outstrips supply by about 250%.

Article 40 of the 1995 Oslo Agreement states that “Israel recognizes Palestinian water rights in the West Bank,” though the language is vague and implementation has been slow. The Camp David Accords did not include provisions on water.

 

Finding a Solution to the Problem: Past, Present, and Future

The Arab League’s tools in this area are limited – Palestine remains under the occupation of Israel, which has been firm on its stance that Israeli security and economic wellbeing trump any rights the Palestinians might have to more land, water, or other resources than they already have. Thus, greater access, is a difficult goal in the short term. In the long term, the League might consider the ways in which it supports Palestinian access to these resources on a legal level or when it comes to peace negotiations.

Addressing the utilization of these resources for the good of the Palestinian economy is more easily tackled on a short-term basis. Those resources already available to the Palestinians – limited land, water, and marine resources – could be used more efficiently. For example, contributions by member states to directly aid projects focused on productivity, the sharing of expertise, or strategic planning should be welcomed.

 

 

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Anant Mishra

Anant Mishra is a former youth representative for United Nations. Almost 4 years of experience, he has served in number of committees including United Nations Conference for Trade and Development and United Nations General Assembly primarily focusing on international trade, education, finance, economics. food crisis And disputes. He is available on anantmishra92@gmail.com

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