February 2018
Dear Friends,

January was another month of strong visibility for our issues.

Yesterday, Reuters published this op-ed by EcoPeace’s Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli co-directors, which joins other recent advocacy efforts, such as the INNS-EcoPeace conference and discussion paper and presentation at the Wilson Center, making the case that water can restore hope for peace in the Middle East and warning of the consequences if this opportunity is missed.

EcoPeace’s narrative and advocacy, particularly on the urgency of the Gaza water and sanitation crisis, is gaining ground, as can be seen in this Haaretz article by Amos Harel, one of Israel’s most important security commentators, and in greater public awareness of the danger to the region if the situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate.

– EcoPeace Middle East

EcoPeace / INSS conference on Water Security

With the support of the Germany Embassy in Tel Aviv and in cooperation with the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), EcoPeace Middle East held a conference on the regional water crises at the INSS in Tel Aviv on January 11th. With the region increasingly threatened by climate change and facing its fifth consecutive drought year, the conference offered a platform to discuss water security issues and their geopolitical implications at the bilateral and regional level. The conference speakers included MK Tzipi Livni, the Head of Israeli Water Authority Giora Shacham, Former US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro and many others.
A new EcoPeace/INSS discussion paper (more in next item) on Israeli, Jordanian, Palestinian water diplomacy efforts was released at the conference, with recommendations for policy makers. See our events page for a complete summary of the conference, including videos and important quotes of the speakers.

Water Diplomacy Report “Israeli Water Diplomacy and National Security Concerns”

This new EcoPeace / INSS discussion paper, “Israeli Water Diplomacy and National Security Concerns” reflects on the concepts of water security and water diplomacy, describes the state of water security in Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories, and presents a set of recommendations to decision makers designed to advance Israeli Palestinian water security and shared national security concerns.
The paper contends that water security plays a fundamental role in ensuring the economic development and the social and political stability of a country, and therefore must be regarded as a national priority issue. The paper suggests that by advancing water diplomacy, states can enhance water security, build regional cooperation and contribute to peace and stability.
Woodrow Wilson event

Israeli Co-Director Gidon Bromberg was invited to the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC to speak at the event “A Matter of Survival: Learning to Cooperate over Water”, and to share EcoPeace’s environmental peacebuilding experiences on such a critical issue.
In the discussion with President Danilo Türk, Chair of the Panel on Water and Peace and former President of Slovenia, leaders from the U.S. and around the world shared their insights on water and peace. Click here to watch the video of the event, and a listing of selected quotes from the speakers, including Gidon Bromberg. Additional photos of the event can be seen here.

Jordan River tour

This month, EcoPeace staff brought congregation members, staff and volunteers from the Augusta Victoria & Dormition Abbey churches to the Kaser el Yehud Baptism site to learn about the challenges facing the Jordan River. Discussions focused on the importance of the river to the local, international as well as faith communities around the world, and what EcoPeace is doing to advance rehabilitation efforts.
Dead Sea in the Spotlight

This month the Israeli Parliament held a Finance Committee meeting to begin discussions on the various options for saving the Dead Sea and accompanying price tags. EcoPeace staff attended the meeting to make sure that our vision of stabilizing the Dead Sea is heard: (1) Partial rehabilitation of the River Jordan, coupled with (2) charging the Mineral Industries for the water they extract – so that they are incentivized to change their water-intensive mining methods. We were delighted to note that our Master Plan for the Sustainable Development of the Jordan Valley was portrayed front and center at this meeting. Following the Committee meeting, several environmental organizations decided to join forces and work towards a mutually agreed vision to put forward in the future.

We had “Good Water Neighbors” at work at the Jerusalem Region Planning Commission

On January 29th, the Jerusalem Regional Planning Commission met to discuss Tzur Hadassah’s Master Plan, which calls for the expansion of additional neighborhoods. EcoPeace, together with a group of activists from Tzur Hadassa, attended the hearing to give voice to the formal objection submitted regarding the expansion plan, citing how the new neighborhood’s fence and surrounding road would adversely affect the springs in the area and impact the Palestinian neighboring community of Wadi Fukin. Meetings were held with residents of Wadi Fukin who wrote up testimonials about the plan’s impact on their well-being, naming how the expansion plan could damage the water springs in the valley and greatly impact the agricultural livelihoods of many residents. These testimonials were added into the formal objection document and delivered during the hearing. Read more in this Haaretz article

The Good Water Neighbors project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency and USAID CMM West Bank / Gaza.