RAMALLAH, April 16, 2013 (WAFA) – Israel’s policies and practices in relation to water in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) amount to a system of “water-apartheid,” said a new study by the human rights group, al-Haq, published Tuesday.

The report, “Water For One People Only: Discriminatory Access and ‘Water-Apartheid’ in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” said that “the threshold for apartheid is met because the inhuman acts, committed against Palestinians through the denial of access to water in the OPT, are carried out systematically in the context of an institutionalized regime with the intent of establishing and maintaining Jewish-Israeli domination over Palestinians as a group.”

While the Oslo Accords intended for greater access to the water resources in the OPT, Palestinians today have less and less access to their natural resources, it added.

Indeed, Palestinians have seen their access to water reduced from 118 million cubic meters per year as promised by Oslo II to 98 million cubic meters per year in 2010 – a decrease of almost 20%.

It said more than half a million Israeli settlers in the occupied territories consume more than six times the amount of water allocated for domestic purposes to 2.6 million Palestinians in the West Bank. This discrepancy is even greater when water for agricultural purposes is taken into account.

The study said Israel extracts almost 90% of the mountain aquifer water largely located in the West Bank, which are subsequently allocated to those residing in Israel and in Israeli settlements.

As a result, Palestinians are forced to rely on Israel’s national water company, Mekorot, to meet at least one third of their domestic water needs, making Mekorot the single largest supplier in the West Bank, said the study.

Commenting on the study, Shawan Jabarin, general director of Al-Haq said: “Not only does Israel continue to profit economically from the occupation of the OPT, but it has imposed a system of ‘water-apartheid’ in order to do so. It is a practice that subjugates the Palestinian population and ensures that the only development we see inside the OPT is that of settlements and settlement farms.”

Al-Haq said that “Israel’s policies and practices with regard to water sources in the OPT violate peremptory norms of international law, including the right to self-determination and the prohibition of extensive destruction and appropriation of property, as well as constituting breaches of the international legal prohibitions of colonialism and apartheid.”

It called on the Israeli authorities “to halt these illegal policies and to guarantee Palestinians the exercise of their sovereign rights, including permanent sovereignty over natural resources.”