Sunday, January 8, 2012
Israel and Palestinian Authority Unite for Eco-Park
Like Captain Planet before them, Israelis and Palestinians are teaming up to “take pollution down to zero” – at least when it comes to the Kishon River, one of the country’s most polluted. This joint ecological venture between the West Bank city of Jenin and the Gilboa Regional Council is amazing for many reasons.
The Kishon, one of Israel’s largest and most important rivers, flows through the Jezreel Valley, passing through the Carmel hills on its way to Haifa Bay. This ancient waterway is mentioned in biblical accounts of the prophets Deborah (Judges 5:21) and Elijah (1 Kings 18:40).
In the late 1930s, petrochemical refineries built on the Kishon River bank by the ruling British authorities to support war efforts dumped their toxic waste into the water. Later on, municipalities in the Haifa area started discharging untreated or partially treated sewage into the river as well.
Flash forward to the 21st century, and the Kishon River was not in great shape. But thanks to a $56.5 million Israeli government project to clean up the water and develop a 148-acre recreational center along its banks, things are looking up.
Today, local Israelis and Palestinians, despite being separated in day to day life, are joining together on this important project. Spearheading the the project are Gilboa Council Head Daniel Atar and and Jenin Governor Moussa Qadoura.
“This project brings together two of the Council’s main values – regional peace and the environment,” Atar explained in an interview with Ynet. “We are planning public parks on both sides of the fence in hopes that one day they will become one.”
Nader al-Khateeb, general director of the Palestinian Water and Environmental Development Organization (WEDO) added: “The environment and water do not recognize borders, militaries and fences. They should be a bridge for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”