When the Palestinian Authority took control of the water sector in the occupied territories in 1995, they inherited an enormous challenge in terms of providing adequate water supplies and sanitation to the Palestinian population. Since the signing of the Oslo Interim Agreement in 1995, despite the prioritization of water development and large amounts of international funding, progress has been slow and many communities in the West Bank continue to suffer from acute water shortage, while in Gaza water quality continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate. Sewage treatment infrastructure throughout the Palestinian Territories is still grossly inadequate. This lack of progress is in part due to deteriorating security conditions which have made implementation of development projects problematic, but it also owes a great deal to the constraints of the ongoing military occupation and the inadequacy of existing agreements with Israel which impede Palestinians from assuming full sovereignty over their water sector, preventing effective development. Since the election of Hamas in 2006, complications over the supply of international aid to the Palestinian Authority both in Gaza and the West Bank has threatened to undermine such progress as has been made in developing the capacity of Palestinian institutions to manage water in the occupied territories, and is contributing to the precipitation of a humanitarian and environmental catastrophe.

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