On the occasion of World Water Day – a thought-provoking event in the European Parliament

Alexandra Thein, MEP from the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and Margarete Auken, MEP from the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance co-hosted the screening of a film: Our water, their water made by French film maker Felix Vigne of Imagéo who was present for the screening and able to answer questions afterwards. The film reflects on the issue of water in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories. This is in some respects part of the conflict agenda; in other ways it goes far beyond the conflict agenda in that there is an absolute shortage of water in the region and the question of management and access will have to be resolved for all the people living there. Excerpts from the film are available on Imagéo’s website.

Alongside the screening of the film, there was also a highly informative presentation by a representative from EWASH, and coalition of almost 30 organisations working in the water and sanitation sector in the occupied Palestinian territory. He presented their latest report:  Down the Drain.

One of the key issue which was highlighted by both the film and the presentation is the way in which Planning Regulations imposed by the Israeli authorities in the West Bank create a situation where sensible planning and progressing of water management and and waste water management are impossible. In Gaza, the continuing blockade has the same effect.

The presentation concluded with a number of key recommendations to which are intended to ensure that the ongoing destruction of infrastructure (see QCEA’s previous blog) does not continue and that assistant from international donor governments can actually contribute to development of the Palestinian economy rather than just being absorbed by the humanitarian assistance needs of the population.

The question is asked of donor governments to what extent they should engage with the planning regulations which act to continue the status quo which does not allow proper development of useful water infrastructure for Palestinian communities.

We all know how important water is; access to water is and should be a human right. This must be so everywhere; but in an area where there is a shortage of water, where there are competing demands for that water and where that competition is part of an ongoing conflict, it is imperative that the international community – and that most certainly includes the EU – take active measures to ensure that this human right can be exercised by  all people. The fact that the EU has funded infrastructure which has been destroyed should be an additional driver for active political engagement.

About Martina Weitsch

Martina worked for Quaker Council for European Affairs as one of two Joint Representatives from 2002 to October 2012. Her main areas of work were the EU role in Palestine/Israel, EU peacebuilding, conflict prevention and crisis management, EU finances, democratic accountability and relations with the European Investment Bank.
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