Yet another joint Israeli and the Palestinian Authority eco-project challenges the mainstream notion that it’s all war and friction between Jews and Arabs. Despite a recent accusation by the French Parliament that Israel is perpetrating water apartheid against the Palestinians, this new initiative demonstrates the willingness of the two people to cooperate. Ynet News reports that the Gilboa Council and Jenin are creating two restorative eco-parks on either side of the historically polluted Kishon River “in hopes that one day they will become one,” says Gilboa Council Head Daniel Atar.
A 70 km perennial stream that is sourced in the Gilboa Mountains and dumps into the Mediterranean Sea, the Kishon River is considered one of region’s most polluted rivers – mostly because of contaminants stemming from industrial plants in Haifa.
So full of mercury and other chemicals, the river once caught fire, and rainbow trout exposed to the polluted water for just 3 hours suffered from liver damage. Recent efforts to clean up this important water way have been somewhat successful, but this joint eco-park is expected to create an ongoing solution.
The rehabilitation project will span 3 km on either side of a security fence that separates the Israeli and PA territories. According to Ynet News, “the Gilboa Council and Jenin enjoy good neighborly relations, enabling both to promote various projects to boost the local economy.”
There’s no sense of when the ecological restorative work will be completed, but it is underway.
The river does not recognize borders and fences
“The environment and water do not recognize borders, militaries and fences. They should be a bridge for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” Nader al-Khateeb, general director of the Palestinian Water and Environmental Development Organization (WEDO) told the paper.
This is not the only time that Arabs and Jews have set aside divisive rhetoric in order to create green peace. Last year Green Prophet writer Arwa Aburawa interviewed Gidon Bromberg, the Israeli Director of Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) who noted that joint green projects can help create lasting peace in the region.
If these two communities can do it, why shouldn’t others follow?
This article was originally published in Green Prophet.