RAMALLAH, September 3, 2012 (WAFA) – The Palestinian human rights group, Al-Haq, in a press release Monday, called on the Israeli authorities to immediately stop the pillaging of the Palestinian natural resources and halt the concession of substantial financial incentives to settlers living in the area.

Al-Haq announced the publication of “Pillage of the Dead Sea: Israel’s Unlawful Exploitation of Natural Resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” The report examines Israel’s responsibilities with respect to the treatment of the occupied Territories natural resources in the Dead Sea area.

Israel must also revoke the mud mining permission granted to Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd. in 2004, said the report.

It reiterated that, under international humanitarian law, Israel is obliged to administer the natural resources belonging to the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) without damaging or diminishing them. Accordingly, it is prohibited from exploiting them in a way that undermines their capital and results in economic benefits for Israeli citizens, including settlers, or for its national economy.

By granting substantial financial benefits to the settlers, as well as by licensing Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd., 44.5% of whose shares are owned by the settlements of ‘Mitzpe Shalem’ and ‘Kalia,’ to mine and manufacture products that utilize the mud extracted from the occupied Dead Sea area, Israel is openly in violation of its obligations as an Occupying Power in the OPT. It is encouraging and facilitating the exploitation of Palestinian natural resources and actively assisting their pillaging by private actors, said the release.

It said, third-party States are called on to abide by their international legal obligations and must take concrete measures to pressure Israel to bring to an end its violations of international humanitarian law. In addition, they must refrain from providing any form of assistance to such violations, including by maintaining business relationships with economic actors allegedly involved in pillage in the occupied Dead Sea area.

The European Union (EU) must ensure that only Israeli entities registered and established in Israel and conducting activities in Israel proper, are able to participate in European programmes, and adopt restrictive measures on the import of Israeli products originating from settlements, because of the serious violations of peremptory norms of international law that settlements and their related infrastructure entail, Al-Haq concluded.



Rights group: Israel must end illegal exploitation of Dead Sea = Ma’an news service

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities must end the exploitation of Palestinian natural resources in the Dead Sea, including granting financial concessions to Israeli settlers and companies in the area, a human rights group said Monday.

The Al-Haq report says Israel gives its own citizens the sole opportunity to benefit from the resource-rich area of the occupied West Bank, at the expense of Palestinians, which “could amount to the war crime of pillage.”

The salty desert lake, some 422 meters below sea level, and its environs were designated as Area C, under full Israeli control, under the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Al-Haq says the settler population has since bloomed, while Palestinian communities are decreasing.

Giving financial benefits to settlers, as well as the sole mud-mining license to an Israeli company, Ahava, of which 44.5 percent of shares are owned by settlements, facilitates the exploitation of Palestinian resources, the report says.

Meanwhile, the group warns that unsustainable water extraction and mining techniques have caused the major decrease in water levels at the lake.

Al-Haq director Shawan Jabarin said the exploitation of the Dead Sea “clearly demonstrates how Israel is benefiting economically from the occupation.”

The group also calls on the European Union to stop Ahava from taking part in projects it funds, which earned the minerals and cosmetics operation 1.13 million euros in 2011.

Further, it argues that “worldwide cosmetic retailers should provide their customers with clear information about the origin of the products that are sold in their stores.”