United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Palestine

Mr. Chairman,
We are discussing one of the most basic elements of a functional society; waste management. In
fact, the provision of this service is not only an integral requirement of development but also a
government?s obligation towards its citizens as this service directly impacts the quality of life of
population, including its health standard.
One of the most immediate challenges that confronted the Palestinian Authority at its inception
was the beleaguered state of this sector, due to decades of wilful negligence by the occupying
Power. In some governorates, the occupying Power had left tens of thousands of residents
without any waste management infrastructure. 16 years on, this sectors remains far behind the
needs of the population and drawn plans of the Palestinian Authority; due once again to the
reality of occupation.
The execution of any waste management project in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is an
especially cumbersome process as it is often indefinitely suspended while the occupation
authorities procrastinate and find pretexts to reject or delay them.
The situation is worst in the Gaza Strip, where the entire population is drinking unsafe water that
has been contaminated by raw sewage and solid waste because the occupying Power bans the
entry of spare parts to repair the destroyed, overextended and insufficient infrastructure and
refuse to allow the entry of equipment needed for the collection and appropriate treatment of
solid and hazardous waste. In 2007, this unjustified ban resulted in tragedy, when an entire
neighbourhood was flooded with raw sewage, killing, injuring, and displacing hundreds of
civilians.
The upkeep and development of this sector is also most difficult as the occupying Power has
made of waste treatment plants a constant military target, especially in Gaza. This contamination
was compounded following Israel?s brutal war on Gaza a year ago. Recently, UNEP concluded
that agricultural grounds areas targeted by the military assaults were most likely contaminated.
OCHA has also reported that the large amounts of rubble resulting from the latest war on Gaza
could potentially contain asbestos or other hazardous chemical substances, such as persistent
and/or bio-accumulating carcinogenic substances, constituting additional environmental and
health risks. Yet, Israeli occupation continues to deny the execution of crucial projects and
import of required equipment to remove this rubble and dispose safely of the waste.
Another reality adding to the burdens of this sector is the occupation authorities? illegal use of
Palestinian land in the West Bank as dumping grounds for the untreated sewage and other solid
waste of illegal Israel settlements. This also includes untreated chemical and industrial waste
from hundreds of factories host in the illegal Israeli settlements. This unmonitored and
unregulated dumping of sewage, hazardous and chemical waste from illegal Israeli settlements in
the Occupied West Bank poses a direct and unmistakable threat to Palestinian lives, their
environment, crops, and scarce underground water resources. In fact, environmental agencies
have already documented the heavy damage to biodiversity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
and the dramatic loss of green lands due to this policy.
This pollution is further compounded by the complacency of the occupying Power with its local
Israeli companies that illegally and unsafely use West Bank land as dumping grounds for over
10,000 tons of solid and other waste from within Israel, in a clear violation of the Basel
Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their
Disposal. In one case, the largest stone mine in the West Bank was turned into dumping ground
for these wastes. Meanwhile, occupation authorities have severely curtailed the Palestinian
Authority?s ability to dispose solid and other waste properly, at times forcing it to create
dumping sites that are dangerously close to populated areas.
As I said in the beginning, the issue of waste disposal and management is not only relevant to
development; it is crucial to the sustenance of life. Hence, with the unique reality of occupation
having such a severe impact on this vital sector, we believe it is imperative the CSD attach due
attention to it. This is not an attempt to inject politics in a debate where it does not belong. The
issues and problems I have just outlined are not caused by unknown factors; rather, they are the
clear and direct result of a reality neither chosen nor wanted by the people it devastates. Our
common goals at the CSD are hence sufficiently essential to mobilize us into attention, action,
and proactive involvement.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.