Saeb Erekat: “Israel’s actions in the Dead Sea could amount to a war crime”

Press Release:

Palestine Liberation Organization Negotiations Affairs Department, 3. of September 2012

Dr. Saeb Erekat: “Israel’s Actions in the Dead Sea could Amount to a War Crime”

“All Israeli goods produced in the Occupied Palestinian Territory from illegally exploited Palestinian land and other natural resources, constitute theft and contravene international law”, Dr. Saeb Erekat declared.

Palestine Liberation Organization’s chief Negotiator added:

“The settlement enterprise’s profiteering from Palestinian natural resources violates our people’s inalienable right to self-determination. It must be stopped”.

Dr. Erekat welcomed the report published this Monday by the human rights organisation Al-Haq, entitled ‘Pillage of the Dead Sea: Israel’s Unlawful Exploitation of Natural Resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory’. The report discusses Israel’s violations of its obligations as an occupying Power in facilitating the licensing and protection of illegal settlements in the Dead Sea area, which illegally exploit Palestinian natural resources for commercial purposes.

“This is theft, pure and simple. Israel continues to act in flagrant disregard of international law. Today’s report on the Dead Sea makes it clear that those settlers and companies profiting directly from the appropriation of Palestinian natural resources may be guilty of the war crime of pillage. Israel must be held accountable for its crimes.”

The senior PLO leader pointed to a UN resolution on the Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) over their natural resources, which receives overwhelming international support on an annual basis. He stressed:

“This report reminds the international community of the need to bring Israel into compliance with international law and stopping the illegal exploitation of Palestinian natural resources”.

In 2011, the Palestinian Ministry of National Economy, in cooperation with the Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem, estimated that Israel’s unlawful exploitation of the Dead Sea salts and minerals in addition to tourism in the area, costs the Palestinian economy over 1.2 billion USD in 2010 alone. Dr Erekat also condemned the proposed confiscation of 3500 dunums of land in the Jordan Valley near Jericho, an area which contains 45 000 palm trees and produces 700 tons of dates for export each year.

“The illegal exploitation of Palestinian resources forms part of the wider Israeli enterprise designed to deny the Palestinian people their right to self-determination and drive them out of their homeland”, he added.

“It is imperative that Israeli confiscations throughout the OPT are halted, especially in the Jordan Valley, which makes up 28.5% of the West Bank and is absolutely vital to the future Palestinian state,” Dr. Erekat explained.

In conclusion, Dr. Erekat declared: “We call on all states that have consistently supported the Palestinian people’s rights, including their permanent sovereignty over their natural resources to assume their responsibilities and see to it that Israel does not profit from the illegal occupation. In this regard we welcome the steps taken by individual countries and the EU towards improved labelling of settlement products, but more must be done to ensure that these resources are only used to the benefit of their rightful owner”.