Water poverty in Israel: Human rights and distributive justice

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This article describes recent developments in Israel which have been aimed at protecting poor people from disconnection from their water supplies. During 2002, a number of public interest organisations filed petitions before the Israeli Supreme Court challenging the statutory and regulatory framework, which enables local municipalities to disconnect the water supplies of poor people. Local municipalities are the statutory bodies responsible for supplying, charging and disconnecting water in Israel. Their policy concerning water disconnection due to payment default does not distinguish between household and commercial usage, poor or wealthy users, inability to pay or arbitrary refusal to do so. Three community-based organisations, representing three different populations, have asked the Supreme Court to annul the municipal bylaws which authorise the City to disconnect water to poor consumers. The first hearing of the petitions took place in February 2003 before a panel of three judges, but the Supreme Court has yet to decide on the cases and, as of this date, they are pending. In this article I will discuss the background to the litigation and analyse the implications of using the judiciary as a means to improve equitable access to water and, in general, to enable the poor's access to essential needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-156
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Water Law
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2003


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