While politicians weigh the options for a diplomatic agreement, ALLMEP members look toward empirical solutions to shared environmental issues.
Environmentalists on both sides believe they cannot wait for a finalized peace plan to take action against the drastic environmental impacts to citizens.
The water crisis in the Gaza strip has health and environmental implications that do not stop at the border with Israel. Though Gaza is hardest hit by environmental issues, it is not only Gazans who are impacted by the region’s pollution. The pollution impacts the water, beaches, rivers, and more across the region.
Regardless of ethnicity or nationality, air and water contamination negatively impacts the region’s citizens across borders and checkpoints. As the president’s envoy Jason Greenblatt continues to explore a peace deal, Israelis and Palestinian environmentalists are advancing the environmental discussion as they promote regional initiatives that would ensure a better future for the environment they share.
In particular, there are hundreds of slow burning charcoal production plants throughout the West Bank that spew out smoke, creating environmental and health hazards for the region. The plants are, however, a source of income for thousands of Palestinians. Through Israeli-Palestinian environmental cooperation, a solution has been discovered in the so-called green ovens initiative, which was presented by the Arava Institute at the Ketura conference. The initiative would allow the charcoal industry to continue to grow without negative environmental consequences.
The environment cannot wait for a future peace agreement that may come one day. The environmental problems are hurting us now – both us Israelis and our Palestinian and Jordanian neighbors. Only working together will we be able to protect the environment, public health, clean water and pure air. We owe it to ourselves and to future generations.
Photo Credit: Mohammed Salem, REUTERS
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