Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | November 6, 2012

November 2012 – Friends of the Earth Middle East – Environmental Peacemaking Newsletter

Jordan River Updates:

FoEME is pleased to invite our regional friends and supporters to attend the Friday, November 9th, 2012 Global Grace Day activities organized by Time for Peace Pilgrimage and its partners – including FoEME. On this day people around the globe will gather in the name of Grace towards the creation a new Earth without violence and war. Hundreds of participants from Israel, Palestine and the international community are expected to participate in the events and join FoEME staff and GWN community members in walking along our Lower Jordan River Neighbors Path to learn about regional efforts to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River. For more information or to join the event please visit our events page.

This month FoEME received permission from the Jordanian Authorities to implement its plans for the renovation of the historic train station on the ‘Peace Island’, located at the heart of the proposed Jordan River Peace Park. As part of the first stage of FoEME’s efforts to establish the transboundary Peace Park at the convergence of the Jordan and Yarmouk Rivers, FoEME is working with Jordanian Authorities to establish a Jordanian National Park at Bakoura and renovate and rehabilitate the area’s unique natural and cultural heritage. The train station, located on the Emek Line of the renowned Hejaz train system, serviced the workers of the Hydroelectric Power Plant and neighboring residents from 1920 to 1932. It was built in the Bauhaus style and is the lowest station in the world at 246 meters below sea level. Today visitors to Naharayim are guided along a path that runs adjacent to the train station on the Peace Island tour. Click here to learn more about FoEME’s Jordan River Peace Park plans. (Photo provided by the Israeli Electric Company Archives)

Want to learn more about what YOU can do to help rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River? Get a crash course by reading FoEME’s recently released Jordan River brochure “Rehabilitate the Jordan River Now!” in Arabic, Hebrew or English.

Read important news coverage of FoEME’s efforts on the Lower Jordan River in a 4-page spread in Israel’s leading daily newspaper (here for English) (here for Hebrew), and another major article in Haaretz, as well as others on our Jordan River / Press Coverage page.

FoEME’s Jordan River Rehabilitation Project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, the Global Nature Fund / Ursula Merz Foundation, and the Osprey Foundation. The renovation of the train station on the Peace Island is supported by the Studiosus Foundation.

FoEME’s “Protecting Ground Water” project held a successful tour this month in Israel and Palestine, hosting Palestinian, Israeli, Spanish and Jordanian municipality representatives, and various officials from different governmental and local authorities. The aim of the visit was to present the specific and relevant environmental problems in each location visited, and offered a special opportunity for stake holders from the different countries to meet and discuss activities for alleviation of mutual environmental hazards. Click here for the Sites Tour Guide.

“Hazard Reduction and Prevention” (HRP) courses have begun in both Israel and Malaga, with Palestine and Jordan soon to follow. The course includes training on the custom-developed, internet-based GIS module that was prepared to fit the special needs of the project.

The “Protecting Ground Water” project is supported by the European Union’s ENPI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme.

FoEME’s continued efforts in Battir:

On Tuesday, October 22nd, the Israeli High Court of Justice issued an order to the Israeli Military not to begin work on the Separation Barrier between Israel and the West Bank in the area of the village of Battir. The order was given in response to the Batir Council and villager’s petition arguing that the construction of the Barrier would threaten ancient agricultural terraces and contravene the historic Rhodes agreement made in 1949.

The court has given the Government of Israel 14 days to respond to the villager’s petition. FoEME is preparing its own petition to the High Court of Justice, warning of the irreversible harm that will be caused to the unique terraced landscape – a candidate for UNESCO recognition as a World Heritage Site. FoEME is collecting signatures from local residents and is planning events to educate the public and bring attention as to the need to preserve this site of shared heritage to us all.

If you’d like to contribute financially to help cover the cost for FoEME’s High Court petition and other public events, please click here for our on-line donation system (and check “Batir”)

Click here for an important article in Haaretz on the objection by even the Israel Nature & Parks Authority as to the construction of the Separation Barrier in this sensitive area, and other articles on our GWN / Press Coverage page.

Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark

Visitors continue to flock to our Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan this month: here are just a few examples:

A group of Girl Scouts and their parents concluded a 2-day Environmental Education Workshop on gray water, solar energy, herb spirals, compost, and how to make local bread called “Shrak Saj”.

A group of CIEE international college students visited the park for the day, to learn about the water resources in Jordan and the region.

More than a dozen people from the “Abraham Path Initiative” walked from the nearby Pella archeological site to the EcoPark; one of the Abraham Path stops.

SIDA conducted a learning field visit to the Jordan Valley. The trip included the two municipalities; Pella and North Shouneh. The SHE EcoPark was the last stop where a tour and a discussion of the day’s impressions took place.

Also, the Second Edition of the “Field Guide to Wild Life of the Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark” was published. The book has 3 news section; a chapter on trees and shrubs, one on wild fauna identified in the park area, and one on habitat. In addition, it includes a more detailed index, and can be cross referenced and sorted by English, Arabica and Latin names of species. The book can be purchased through FoEME, by writing to Abed Sultan: asultan@foeme.org.

SIDA conducted a learning field visit to the Jordan Valley. The trip included the two municipalities; Pella and North Shouneh. The SHE EcoPark was the last stop where a tour and a discussion of the day’s impressions took place.

And GET READY: preparations for a March 30th, 2013 Triathlon with “Wild and Free Adventures” are underway. See the first brochure produced for the event. So, SAVE THE DATE and start exercising!!

Auja Environmental Education Center

The Auja EcoCenter is proud to report that the Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, visited the Center for the official opening of the new Seismic station, the first one of its kind in the West Bank. FoEME’s Auja Center is honored to have been chosen as the most appropriate place for its implementation, undertaken in cooperation with the Al Najah University and their partners in Germany.

The Prime Minister’s visit was truly a highlight for the Center, marking our success in gaining sincere interest and general support for our work in the community from the highest level of the government. While at the Center, Dr. Fayyad heard a brief overview of the Centers’ history and current activities, and then received a tour of the facilities on site.


The Auja Environmental Education Center is supported by the Drosos Foundation.

The Good Water Neighbors project is funded by USAID’s Conflict Management and Mitigation program, the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), the European Union’s Partnership for Peace program and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).


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