KKL head Efi Stenzler. Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post
Environmental concerns will be a decisive issue in this January’s upcoming election as the country looks forward to taking care of its future generations, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund Chairman Efi Stenzler told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

“The environment is the most important thing for the next generation,” Stenzler said, during an interview at his Jerusalem office. “And as long as the country becomes more developed, this issue becomes more important.”

While many countries around the world still may not care about what happens to the environment – as occurred in the 1960s and ‘70s in Israel – this is certainly no longer the case in Israel, according to Stenzler.

Environmental protection takes care of the next generation and supports development efforts for the future, he said.

In order to contribute to both the protection and development efforts, KKLJNF has been active since 1901, developing forests and greenery all over Israel with the help of 45 JNF branches across the Jewish Diaspora, according to Stenzler.

One of KKL-JNF’s newest projects that it is trying to push forward is the development of a canal from the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea. As opposed to the path from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, this route would contain flat land and would be ideal for a hydroelectric industry, ultimately supplying much-needed water to the Israeli and Jordanian Dead Sea regions as well, Stenzler explained.

“For this project we need all the Jewish people around the world,” he said.

In the recent Operation Pillar of Defense, Stenzler said he was happy to see that the fruits of KKL-JNF work provided a shelter and oases to the soldiers on standby.

“The army stood in our places and in forests we planted years ago,” he said, noting that the troops rested under shade as opposed to open space.

While the organization has already developed many towns and recreation spots for Negev residents as well as for former Gush Katif evacuees, Stenzler stressed that his teams are trying to provide additional aid to those affected by the recent turbulence.

“After this operation our people are now going from one city to another city looking for what we can do to help create better places for these people,” he said.

One such ongoing example is the Beersheba Park, which will soon contain Israel’s second largest lake and will provide a recreational oasis for southern residents, according to Stenzler.

Meanwhile, KKL-JNF teams have planted trees all along the border of the Gaza Strip, in order to challenge the visibility of terrorists launching missiles and rockets to southern Israel, he explained.

“Now before Tu Bishvat we will increase those numbers of trees,” he said.