FoEME held a ‘Mass Float’ event at the Dead Sea on May 21st together with the organization “Save the Sea” comprised of people who suffer from illnesses such as psoriasis and rely on the unique therapeutic qualities of the Dead Sea to assist in the treatment and relief of these health conditions.

Hundreds of people from both organizations, residents and tourists participated in the event at Ein Bokek, calling for a stop to the continued degradation of the Dead Sea – due to the over exploitation and near total diversion of the Lower Jordan River (the Dead Sea’s main water supply) together with activities of the Dead Sea mineral extraction industry. Participants expressed their hope for an improvement to the situation.

FoEME received a great deal of press coverage on the event; see our Dead Sea / press coverage page.

FoEME organized a meeting on May 18th with World Bank representative Mariam Sherman, who confirmed the Banks intention to support the establishment of the Hebron Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) – at the cost of $45 million USD. Also invited to the meeting were Israeli & Palestinian residents from the Good Water Neighbors communities along the Hebron and Beer Sheva streams who suffer from its pollution. The Hebron WWTP project has been stuck and delayed for almost a decade, despite several attempts by others.

The Hebron stream, which continues to the Beer Sheva stream, is the longest cross-border stream in the region. This is a very promising turn of events, which will affect the lives of many residents in both Israel and Palestine.

Read our press release on the issue, and the press coverage subsequently received.

On Thursday May 5th, FoEME hosted J Street board members and donors, and led them on a site visit to FoEME’s Gilboa Regional Council’s Neighbors Path to show them first hand examples of people-to-people activities in our Good Water Neighbors project.

At a spot overlooking the neighboring community of Jenin, Dr. Yousef Sadek, FoEME’s Field Staff in Jenin who crossed the border to join the tour, explained the importance of FoEME’s regional youth camps that bring together Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian youth, citing that these youth will one day be leaders and decision makers. Gidon Bromberg, FoEME’s Israeli Director, called on J Street members to highlight the need for people-to-people programming in their future meetings with US decision makers, including US members of Congress.

Click here to watch a short video of the day’s event.

FoEME organized a cross border “Neighbors Path” tour for Palestinian Tour Guides to learn about the Israeli communities of Beit She’an and the Jordan Valley Regional Council. The purpose of “Neighbors Paths” are to show the natural and cultural heritage of each one of our “Good Water Neighbor” communities and to learn about their water resources both in the past and in the present. Many trails highlight the rich history found in the region but also reveal degradation and pollution.

The Tour Guides visited the Peace Island, “Naharayim” – the area where the historic Rotenberg hydroelectric power plant once produced electricity using the waters of the Jordan and Yarmouk Rivers, the “Rob Roy” canoe outfitter located on the last stretch of clean water on the Lower Jordan River, etc., and enjoyed the learning experience and social interaction of the day.

The Good Water Neighbors project is supported by USAID, SIDA and the Belgium Foreign Ministry’s Peace Building Desk.

FoEME’s Auja Environmental Education Center has seen much activity this month:

• The first event this month, on May 4th, was a lecture given to a group of Palestinian farmers who gathered from all over the Jordan Valley at the EcoCenter to learn about innovative strategies for farming in arid regions. It was delivered by Mr. Gary Nabhan from Arizona, USA, a sustainable agriculture activist and international leader in permaculture. Also in attendance were several visitors from the U.S. Embassy in Jordan including the Environment, Science, Technology, Health Hub Officer for the MENA region, and a Regional Environmental Specialist. Read more on our blog post.

• An Open Day for schools with Amideast was held at the Auja EcoCenter with the participation of dozens of school children from 7 schools in the West Bank. Students were engaged throughout the day in dances, theatre, music, videos, presentations, dioramas, GIS training and mapping, all in the name of environmental awareness. See our Flicker page for a colorful set of photos from this exciting day, and a write up on our blog post.

• A delegation of French Parliamentarians, representatives from Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD), as well as the Head of the Palestinian Water Authority, Minister Shaddad Attilli, and a host of various NGOs and French and Palestinian civil servants descended upon Auja’s Eco-Center on May 19th, for an informative tour of the EcoCenter and a discussion on the work of FoEME for a more just allocation of shared water resources. Read more in our blog.

• And on May 27th, a delegation of 9 Swedish Parliamentarians visited the Auja Center, to learn first hand about how the lives of Palestinians were being affected by the occupation. On their drive to see the now-dry Auja spring that used to bring water to Palestinian farmers, they also saw – in stark contrast – a nearby Israeli settlement boasting lush green crops. Even when relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are strained, FoEME continues to work cooperatively with Palestinians, Israelis and Jordanians. Nader Khateeb, FoEME Palestinian Director, spoke of the need to promote a new model water accord, as a key lesson of FoEME’s Good Water Neighbors project. Read more in our blog.

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

Be active during the summer! – FoEME Jordan encourages ‘King’s Academy’ students to volunteer! The Jordanian FoEME office set up a booth and gave a presentation to the students of the Jordanian Kings Academy school on May 16th. FoEME staff presented the organization’s projects and activities, with the aim to interest students in participating in volunteering opportunities during the summer months. Planned activities include local youth workshops, recycling art events, summer camps and clean-ups.

Several Kings Academy students are involved in FoEME’s “Jordan Valley Youth Leadership” project, learning about the importance of the regions shared water resources, and it is hoped that more students will participate in additional activities being offered during the summer.

Timed perfectly to influence the FY 2012 appropriations cycle and taking advantage of heightened Middle East attention with the visits of King Abdullah and Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama’s policy address, ALLMEP hosted more than 30 member representatives – including 3 FoEME representatives – and took Capitol Hill by storm, during ALLMEP’s Annual Meeting and Advocacy Days, May 17-18.

Subsequent to a morning briefing session panelist from top USAID officials, where each organization also had an opportunity to present their work — the teams raced to Capitol Hill for an unprecedented 86 meetings to promote the support of $12 million in FY 2012 funding for USAID’s Conflict Management and Mitigation’s competitive grants program, and support the authorization of the International Fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace.

ALLMEP members can clearly claim credit for this great advocacy effort and for enhancing public visibility on conciliation activities. (click here for event photos).

This month FoEME presented the results of its regional environmental flows study of the Lower Jordan River and its economic analysis of policy opportunities for water conservation in Israel, Jordan and Palestine at the Istanbul International Water Forum during a session on Regional Technical Water Cooperation.

The Jordan River Rehabilitation Project is supported by USAID, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, the Green Environment Fund and the Global Nature Fund / Ursula Merz Foundation.

Architect Andrei Harwell from the Yale Urban Design Workshop, presented FoEME’s vision to establish the Jordan River Peace Park at the International “Why Does the Past Matter?” Conference organized by the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Center for Heritage & Society. Yale University’s Urban Design Workshop has partnered with FoEME to advance design concepts for the proposed Jordan River Peace Park.

The Jordan River Peace Park Project is supported by the Blaustein Foundation and the Jewish Funders Network / Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund.

On May 31st FoEME Israeli and Palestinian staff gave two presentations at a conference organized by the Van Leer Institute, “Environmental Pollution Respects no Borders”. One presentation was about our “Good Water Neighbors” project and the second entitled “Politics of the Cross Border Sewage”.

The conference focused on how to bridge the gap between pollution, that respects no borders, and policy and regulation that is limited by borders.

source: foeme email newsletter