Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | January 6, 2014

January 1st, 2014 – Friends of the Earth Middle East – Environmental Peacemaking Newsletter

High Court Hearing set for Battir

The Israeli High Court – on January 29th – will determine the fate of the unique agricultural terraced landscape of Battir. For more info, click here n1

 Battir’s ancient irrigated terraces date back 4,000 years and represent a remarkable environmental heritage of tremendous ecological and cultural significance to all the people of the region and the world. This is a landscape produced by centuries of work, comprised of a billion stones being collected and piled one on top of another, generation after generation to enable traditional farming to take place, using spring water stored in small pools, channeled to the terraced fields by open canals. FoEME continues to work hard to preserve this unique landscape.

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 Eco-building and international culture at the SHE EcoPark  n2

This past month, a group of youth from the Kings Academy School in Jordan joined visiting youth from Omman, India and Turkey, and together, began the building of a “Bird Hide” at FoEME’s Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan.  Naturally, the bird hide structure is being built using recyclable materials, i.e. plastic bottles in this case, and when completed, will be used for viewing the many birds that have returned to the area, thanks to ongoing conservation efforts at the EcoPark.

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After much hard work clearing the site, gathering materials and beginning construction, the youth enjoyed a cultural, social evening at the EcoPark, where each group of youth participated by giving a presentation from their own country’s culture.

 

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 Israeli Minister of Environment visits Baka el Gharbia

On December 10th, the Israeli Minister of Environment, Mr. Amir Peretz, visited Baka el Gharbia and went on a tour to the Hedera Stream / Wadi Abu Naar, and to one of the schools in which FoEME has been working with youth ‘Water Trustees’.

 n4The Minister expressed his appreciation of the municipality’s endeavors that address its environmental challenges, and commemorated FoEME’s effective work in the community. Mr. Peretz has declared a commitment of 5M NIS in support of Baka Gharbia’s environmental “Priority Projects“, including the Cross-Border Hadera / Wadi Abu Naar Park, the Cross Border Stream Committee, amongst others.

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 Human Rights Day, West Jerusalem community

This year, the GWN West Jerusalem community’s Nissui High School dedicated Human Rights Day to WATER. FoEME Israeli Director, Gidon Bromberg, addressed 11th grade students, stressing legal and social circumstances of Water Rights in Israel and the Middle East. n5

Several films from Tel Aviv University’s cooperative Israel-Palestinian “Water Project” were screened at the school, exposing 9th-11th grade students to different aspects of water reality and conflicts. An in-depth debate of the issues followed in the classrooms that will continue through ongoing activities of FoEME.

 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 & the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

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FoEME initiates master plan for Matte Yehuda Springs

In the context of the “Protecting Ground Water” project, the n6participating municipality of Matte Yehuda Region in Israel turned its focus to the state of over 70 natural springs of the mountain aquifer in this region. Since March 2013, the ‘Mountain Springs Forum’, including representatives of different stakeholders, has been active in advancing an interdisciplinary approach to conservation and protection of the springs, including water quality, habitat preservation, landscape heritage, public use and more.

 FoEME has initiated and funded an extensive survey and master plan, led by the DESHE Institute and the Rosner-Sela-Bernstein landscape architecture office.

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

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Dec 9th signing of a Water Sharing Agreement – is NOT the ‘Red Dead’ project

Unfortunately, there has been a lot of misinformation in the press recently about a new water agreement in the region, making it sound as if this is the launch of the “Red Dead Canal” project. n7

FoEME would like to clear the fog on the issue. What was signed on December 9th in Washington was a Memorandum of Understanding of 3 items, to be further pursued: (1) the building of a desalination plant in Aqaba (with the issue of where to dispose of the brine still in question); (2) a water exchange agreement between Jordan and Israel, whereby the new Aqaba desalination plant will provide ~50 million cubic meters (mcm) of water to Eilat, in exchange for ~50 mcm of water from the Sea of Galilee to Amman; and (3) Israel will sell an additional 20-30 mcm of water to the Palestinians.

Read more in our Dec. 9th press release; see FoEME’s statement in our September newsletter (last item) when the news had just came out; many articles in our Red Dead Conduit / press coverage page; and in this op-ed article The Red Dead Pipe Dream, written by Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director of FoEME, which sheds much light on the issue.

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Internship in Washington DC

We are looking for an unpaid intern to work part-time in the Washington, DC area to help advance FoEME’s programs in the U.S. and to maintain and extend its contacts with  U.S. decision-makers, thought leaders and the public.  Those interested should be proficient in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) or a comparable system, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and enjoy all types of writing, creating databases, forming digital photo albums and using digital media.  Most work will be conducted on your own computer and cell phone and through e-mail, and can be done from home.  Time commitment could be up to 10-15 hours per week.  There also will be opportunities to attend conferences and downtown Washington and Capitol Hill meetings.   If you are drawn to FoEME’s environmental peacebuilding work and want to help, please contact Mary Alexander, at 301-587-4367 or mary@mkalexander.com.

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 Wishing you all Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year!n8

FoEME would like to take this opportunity to THANK YOU all for your continued interest and support in our work.

We have many challenges that await us for 2014!  Stay tuned for our monthly updates to learn about them!

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