Adonis Diaries

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Israel occupation: THEFT of water and NATURAL RESOURCES and DESTRUCTION of homes and properties

From IMUE report of 2012:

HOME DEMOLITIONS

‘Israel usually carries out demolitions on the grounds that the structures were built without permits, but in practice such permits are almost impossible for Palestinians to obtain in Israeli-controlled areas, whereas a separate planning process available only to settlers grants new construction permits much more readily.’

  • Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states: “Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.”
  • Israel has demolished approximately 27,000 Palestinian homes in the occupied territories since 1967.
  • Demolitions are carried out for three stated reasons: military purposes; “administrative” reasons (i.e. a home or structure is built without difficult to obtain permission from Israel); and to deter or punish militants and their families, a violation of provisions of international law that prohibit collective punishment.
  • According to Human Rights Watch’s 2012 World Report:
  • Since 1967, some 2,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished in occupied East Jerusalem. According to official Israeli statistics, from 2000 to 2008 Israel demolished more than 670 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem. The number of outstanding demolition orders is estimated at up to 20,000.
  • Palestinians in East Jerusalem are often forced to choose between demolishing their own homes and paying for Israeli authorities to do it.

THEFT & DESTRUCTION OF NATURAL RESOURCES

After taking control of the occupied territories in 1967, Israel began to exploit their natural resources. Most critically in the semi-arid region, Israel began to exploit aquifers and other water sources.

According to international law, including Article 55 of the Hague Regulations, an occupying power is prohibited from using an occupied territory’s natural resources for its own benefit. An occupying power may only use resources in an occupied territory for military necessity or for the benefit of the occupied population.

Thus, Israel’s exploitation of Palestinian resources such as water for use in Jewish settlements and inside Israel proper is a clear breach of international law, a position supported by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International.

Despite this clear prohibition, in December 2011, in response to a petition filed by Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that Israeli companies could continue exploiting Palestinian resources in the occupied territories.

WATER –

‘In the Gaza Strip, 90 to 95% of the water from its only water resource, the Coastal Aquifer, is contaminated and unfit for human consumption. Yet, Israel does not allow the transfer of water from the Mountain Aquifer in the West Bank to Gaza.‘Stringent restrictions imposed in recent years by Israel on the entry into Gaza of material and equipment necessary for the development and repair of infrastructure have caused further deterioration of the water and sanitation situation in Gaza, which has reached [a] crisis point.’

‘According to Amnesty International, Palestinians received on average of 18.5 gallons of water per person per day, falling short of the World Health Organization’s standard of 26.5 gallons per person per day, the minimum daily amount required to maintain basic hygiene standards and food security.’

‘Between January and July, according to the UN, the Israeli military destroyed 20 water cisterns, some of which were funded by donor countries for humanitarian purposes.’

‘Palestinian residents reported that water supplies were intermittent, and settlers and their security guards denied Palestinians, including shepherds and farmers, access to the springs.’

  • While Israeli settlers water their lawns and fill swimming pools, Palestinians living nearby often cannot access an adequate amount of water for drinking, cooking, or proper hygiene.
  • In the West Bank, Israeli settlers consume on average 4.3 times the amount of water as Palestinians. In the Jordan Valley alone, some 9,000 settlers in Israeli agricultural settlements use one-quarter the total amount of water consumed by the entire Palestinian population of the West Bank, some 2.5 million people.
  • A 2012 UN report documented the rising use of threats, violence and intimidation by settlers to deny Palestinians access to their water resources in the West Bank. It found that Israeli settlers have been acting systematically to gain control of some 56 springs, most of which are located on private Palestinian land.
  • The report also criticized Israeli authorities for having “systematically failed to enforce the law on those responsible for these acts and to provide Palestinians with any effective remedy.”
  • According to a 2010 Human Rights Watch report, 60,000 Palestinians living in Area C of the West Bank (which is under full
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What Last-minute lack of transparency can do? Would it weakens sustainable development goals?

On Sunday 2 August, the 193 countries which make up the UN agreed to a document that will shape the next 15 years of international development policy and action.

Hailed “the people’s agenda” by UN secretary-general Ban-Ki moon, the sustainable development goals (SDGs), have taken some two years to negotiate.

The SDGs in their final form will be agreed to by all governments at a special summit this September.

Yet, the final 48 hours leading up to this milestone moment were marked by closed-door deals and bad faith, I believe.

As a civil society advocate working on the SDGs, I have been witnessing the negotiations since March 2013.

The negotiations had, until the evening of Friday 31 July, been a genuinely open and inclusive process. They were open to observers, included opportunities for civil society and the private sector to speak directly to the governments and were webcast on the UN’s own live TV channel.

But that weekend, as the 17 goals and 169 targets were being debated for the last time, observers were kept out and information was relayed by a small handful of specific negotiators to a small handful of civil society advocates such as myself.

After the negotiations stalled, the US delegation laid down an ultimatum, asking for changes to the language of the final outcome document, without which they refused to adopt the SDGs.

The US asked to replace the word “ensure” with the word “promote” in two targets (2.5 and 15.6, both about equitable benefits from natural resources) which, when applied would see rich nations – whose corporations and research institutions extract the vast majority of world’s natural biodiversity – share fairly the profits and patents reaped from those resources with the countries and communities from which they are extracted.

The legal agreement on biodiversity, published in 2011, clearly uses the word “ensure” but by insisting on the much weaker word “promote”, the US has diluted hard-won legal language and replaced it with something that is nebulous at best, and unenforceable at worst.

In response, a statement was delivered from the countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Philippines and Trinidad and Tobago.

These countries stressed that the legal language was vital to maintain, as it is an international commitment stipulated in the Nagoya Protocol that must not be weakened.

This last minute, take-it-or-leave-it deal – proposed despite the fact that countries had repeatedly stressed that the goals must not be reopened to debate – filled the air of the UN conference room with distrust and tension.

A second alteration was made on Saturday 1 August, this time by the EU, which negotiates as a block in the UN.

They inserted the following text into the specific paragraph that addresses debt management: “Maintaining sustainable debt levels is the responsibility of the borrowing countries … ”

It is plainly obvious why this language is harmful and, given the situation in Greece, callous for the EU to even propose it.

If debt is the sole responsibility of the borrower, then the role of the lender in exacerbating the debt burden and setting countries up to default and crisis, as has been evident in Greece’s financial meltdown, is undermined.

Talk of debtors and creditors simply “working together” ignores existing UN agreements, dating back to 2002, that clearly recognise the joint responsibility of both the lender and borrower.

It was particularly disappointing to see human rights and non-discrimination, a cornerstone of the global goals, become a bargaining chip in the final hours.

African and Arab countries (who negotiate within blocks called the African Group and the Arab Group) attempted to delete language on.

While the specific words “human rights” were thankfully kept in the final document, “discrimination” was demoted to “distinction” and “fulfil” was reduced to “promote”. In both instances, these words are vague and inconsistent with established international human rights language, which will make it difficult to monitor progress and change.

Mention of discrimination on the basis of categories such as ethnicity, migration status, culture, economic situation or age as a protected status were also scrapped from the document, in an attempt to appease the African and Arab groups.

However, race, colour, sex, language, religion, political opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, disability or other status managed to survive.

The way in which the SDGs have been adopted leaves a sour taste in the mouth and mirrors the bullying and blackmailing I witnessed at the Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa.

The UN is supposed to be the a democratic and universal institution, one in which every nation has a vote, unlike the rich country-dominated IMF or World Bank. Backroom deals and pressure campaigns inevitably throw the legitimacy and fairness of international negotiations – not to mention the political will of governments to take the sustainable development goals seriously – into question.

The new global development agenda has captured the imagination of civil society, international institutions and many governments – rich and poor – because they have the potential to make ambitious and universal change to our economies, societies and environments. But the process by which we arrive at this new deal is important.

What transpired in the first weekend of August should cause all who are serious about the mantra to “leave no one behind” to reflect on the reality of vested interests and the unequal power between negotiating governments. If we cannot address this, we are left with the same system under a different name.

Bhumika Muchhala is a senior policy analyst at the Third World Network.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

If people are skeptical about govts as honest brokers: US weakens language on biodiversity and natural resource extraction, EU adds text that maintaining sustainable debt levels is the responsibility of debtor nations, while Arab and African nations (unsuccessfully) try to remove language on human rights and non-discrimination

The back room deals and pressure campaigns at the end of SDG negotiations call into question the legitimacy of the goals, says Bhumika Muchhala

adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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