At Palestine Note, Joshka Wessels writes:
“Fahmi Manasra walks to the spring he remembers from his childhood. He was a young boy when he moved from Dheisheh refugee camp to the paradise of Wadi Fukin some 30 years ago. At the time, he felt like he was in heaven. He had wished to share this same feeling with his children but the spring is empty. Today, the spring and its reservoir are completely dried up. Nothing is left of the spring. Fahmi’s paradise is lost. The cause ? Construction of an expanding illegal Israeli settlement that is taking up land, drying up the springs and contaminating the soil.”
“During the years after the second intifada, it became clear that the increased settlement construction was severely damaging the environment. This alarmed both the Palestinian farmers and Israeli activists to take action. The environmental NGO “Friends of the Earth Middle East”, a unique organization with offices in Tel Aviv, Bethlehem and Amman, helped out with scientific research. The studies showed the large scale environmental impact by settlement activities.
A big shock came when people from Tsur Hadassah and Wadi Fukin were presented with the proposed plans for the Israeli separation wall. The building plans proposed a route that will cut the valley in two parts and destroy the environment even further. The village will become a prison, encircled by the wall and the settlement of Bitar Illit.
Alarmed by the developments, the Israeli activists and Palestinian farmers filed a case at the Israeli courts. They approached Israeli human rights lawyer, Michael Sfard, who also represents the Rachel Corrie case. Based on environmental grounds, they argued that the wall should not be build and settlement activity should stop. The process was lengthy. It included a petition in Tsur Hadassah and many rejections of the case. The group did not give up and went to the High Court and finally last year managed to get some positive verdict. The building of the Wall has now been frozen based on environmental grounds. How long this freeze will last is unclear. But the fact that they were successful in stopping the Wall gives some little hope.”
Read it all.
Eco Peace in the Middle East – an event
Thursday 24 March 2011
7pm- Reception; 7:30pm- Lecture and Discussion
The Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole Street, London, W1G 0AE
Fee: £7 in advance (book here)/ £10 on the door
Environment has no borders. The rain falls on Jerusalem, Amman and Ramalla; the desert expands northwards in Israel, Palestine and Jordan and the impacts of climate change will be felt by all people in the region.
The responsibility for cultivating the already fragile ecosystem in the Middle East lies with all the people who inhabit the region. The Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian co-Directors of Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) will share with us their unique partnership and set out the environmental challenges the region faces.
EcoPeace / FoEME is a unique organisation that brings together Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli environmentalists since 1994. Its primary objective is the promotion of cooperative efforts to protect the shared environmental heritage across the region of the Middle East. In so doing, it seeks to advance both sustainable regional development and bring about the creation of necessary conditions for a lasting peace in the region.
New Israel Fund has helped support FoEME’s efforts to rehabilitate the lower Jordan River system, which has had its annual flow reduced by about 90% and lost its rich and diverse ecosystems. With New Israel Fund help, FoEME launched a campaign to raise awareness of the situation, and has prepared a Strategic Action Plan targeting Israeli decision makers who can implement the necessary changes.
See you there.
Environmental engineer Muhammad Al-Ihmaidi used to head the joint Israeli-Palestinian environmental negotiations committee during the Oslo period. Nadir Al-Khatib directed the Bethlehem office of Friends of the Earth Middle East. He says that environmental consciousness had its origins in Oslo, a time of negotiations and optimism. Now that the economy in Nablus is up-turning, things are stirring again on the recycling and biodiversity fronts.
Daniella Cheslow writes in the Global Post, where you can also put faces to these names.
Good Water Neighbours and a Model Water Agreement – see FoEME’s May 09 newsletter.
Anxiety about the environment cuts across all local and national conflict, and environmentalists in the Middle East understand that it is simply not possible to isolate each other. Such a sense of a shared existence is the bedrock of a peaceful resolution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
At the Arava Institute of Environmental Studies in Israel’s Negev Desert, Palestinian, Israeli, Jordanian and American Environmental Studies students consider coexistence and ask “Where do we go from here“? These students give some of the most powerful arguments for peace that I have read in a while.
“The recent violence in Gaza and southern Israel has weighed heavily on the students here – possibly the only place in Israel where Palestinian and Israeli students continue to look each other in the eye day-to-day and ponder their common present and future. Needless to say, their studies, as in the rest of Israel and Palestine, have been disrupted directly and indirectly by tragic current events. But here, uniquely, we are trying to use the event to strengthen our collective vision, rather than further divide.
Within the context of our pre-scheduled lecture on regional environmental policy (with guest lecturer, Green Movement-Meimad candidate Dr. Shmuel Brenner), I asked the students three questions regarding their vision of the future for the region, and how we we get from where we are now to where we want to be.”
Read the whole thing on Greener Israel, the unofficial blog of Israel’s new political party, the Israel Green Movement – Meimad.