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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Palestine State

Article 33 of Palestine’s constitution offers provisions for the protection of the environment. Specifically, the article reads: “The enjoyment of a balanced and clean environment is a human right. The preservation and protection of the Palestinian environment from pollution for the sake of present and future generations is a national duty.”

The Oslo Peace Process of 1993 rendered the Declaration of Principle, which addressed environmental issues. It stated that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority would adopt, apply and ensure compliance with internationally recognized standards regarding land, air, water and sea pollution, as well as disposal of solid and liquid wastes. The Declaration also mentioned a Palestinian Environmental Protection Authority (PEPA), and a draft environmental law was prepared by the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem (ARIJ) and the Environmental Law Institute of Washington, D.C., in January 1995.

Featured Legislation

1999: The Palestinian Environmental law was signed. The Environmental Law of Palestine (PEL) includes a framework for environmental protection including reused treated water and sets roles and responsibilities for the EQA as follows:

  • To promote environmental awareness in schools, universities and clubs and encourages volunteer work aiming to protect the environment
  • To ensure the right of every individual to live in a sound and clean environment and stress on resource conservation and sustainable development including the protection of water resources, soil quality, flora and fauna
  • The different entities should cooperate with the Environmental Quality Authority (EQA) regarding the policy of land use in order to protect the natural resources that have particular nature and preserve environment and ensures the protection of natural resources and areas with special habitats

2000: The Palestinian Environmental Assessment Policy, through resolution No: 27-23/4/2000 was passed. This Policy supports the sustainable economic and social development of the Palestinian people through assisting in meeting the following goals:

  • Ensuring an adequate standard of life in all its aspects, and not negatively affecting the basic needs, and the social, cultural and historical values of people as a result of development activities
  • Preserving the capacity of the natural environment
  • Conserving biodiversity, landscapes and the sustainable use of natural resources
  • Avoiding irreversible environmental damage, and minimizing reversible environmental damage, from development activities

2002: The Palestinian Water Law (3/2002) was promulgated, presenting all regulations that govern water in the Palestinian territory and Gaza Strip. The following are some of the important articles:

  • Article 6) According to this law an organization should be established under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority in order to be responsible for water sector and should be named as Water Authority.
  • (Article 7) discusses the responsibility of water authority which is supposed to assume full responsibility for the management of water resources and sanitation in Palestine and 2) prepare the water policy and public action to implement them in cooperation and coordination with the concerned authorities and submit periodic reports on the water situation

2004: The Solid Waste Management Regulations were issued by the EQA, developing regulations that aim to complement the Environmental Law. These include the following key guidelines related to waste collection:

  • Collection of waste, which is the responsibility of municipalities and village councils
  • Prohibitions on the  disposal of waste outside the street containers. These containers should be closed and manufactured out of a metallic or similar material.

2010: The National Strategy for Solid Waste Management in the Palestinian Territory was ratified. The National Strategy for Solid Management in the Palestinian Territory was endorsed by the Cabinet in May 2010 and represents the first cross-sectoral strategy for solid waste in Palestine. The strategy aims at establishing the framework to all decisions, programs, activities, and mid-term investment plans to develop the solid waste sector in Palestine. At institutional level, the strategy confirmed the urgent need to address major issues like:

  • Ineffective legislative framework
  • Lack of standards for various stages of SWM
  • No division of tasks and responsibilities among various stakeholders
  • Lack of resources (human, financial, organizational capacity) in the instates involving in SWM
  • No unified system to manage data related to SWM

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • The promulgation of the Palestinian Environmental Law spearheaded legislative efforts to safeguard the environment against all forms of pollution, protecting public health and social welfare. Palestine has also ratified a total of 17 international environmental agreements, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the Basel Convention, and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. However, despite such advances, Israeli occupation facilitates environmental crimes at the regional and national level. A recent report suggests that unregulated Israeli factories in the West Bank are leading to water and nature reserve exploitation; the smuggling of hazardous waste into the West Bank; and the use of Palestinian territories as a massive dumping site. As a result of the this grim discovery, the Palestinian Affairs Unit at the American embassy has decided to support a Nature Palestine Society (NPS) project that aims to improve the skills of young environmentalists in Palestine in the domain of the environmental law and green entrepreneurship. In 2021, the Environmental Quality Authority and Environmental Police handed over to the NPS 29 different animals (mammals and birds) that had been illegally trafficked in the West Bank, raising concerns about the nation’s vulnerable biodiversity. The NPA’s new mandate is to ensure all stakeholders in the environmental sector work hand in hand to enforce environmental laws; raise more public awareness campaigns and capacity building programs; and update environmental legislation.

References and Further Reading

Contacts

Ministry of Environmental Protection: Phone 073-2733351, Email pniot@sviva.gov.il