December 31, 2006 – Environmental Issue Overrides Outdated IDF Decision

Israeli military reverses previous decision against a solid waste facility in Israeli-controlled parts of the West Bank

Tel Aviv, 31st December 2006

In response to pressure from environmental groups, the Israeli military has approved the establishment of a landfill to be built on land previously restricted to Palestinian development.The new landfill site will be constructed near the village of Dir Dibwan, east of Ramallah in “Area C,” land under full Israeli military control.

The site will replace two antiquated dump sites in Al-Bireh and Ramallah — both of which lack basic environmental infrastructure, resulting in pollution of the Mountain Aquifer’s groundwater, as well as air pollution.

“The decision is a victory for the citizens of Ramallah, who have long been forced to live with the stench, public health hazards and polluted air generated from the atrocious state of the cities dumps,” said Nader Khateeb Director of EcoPeace’s office in Bethlehem.

Responding to calls by EcoPeace Middle East, support for the site’s approval was secured by Mr. Hagai Alon, advisor to Defense Minister Peretz.

The former objection to the site was justified by the military due to plans to construct an eastern separation barrier, which would have separated the proposed waste disposal site from Ramallah and the adjacent village of Dir Dibwan.

“Despite the fact that the barrier plan was abandoned by the government as early as 2004, Israeli military objections to the site remained,” said Zach Tagar, Deputy Director at EcoPeace’s office in Tel Aviv. “Reversal of the decision is a hopeful sign of changes in the New Year. Moreover, the decision facilitates the advancement of a 14 million Euro German investment in protecting shared ground water resources by providing a solution to waste disposal for over 350,000 people.”

Approximately sixty million cubic meters of sewage and solid waste pollution seep into the Mountain Aquifer every year, threatening the fresh water supply for Israelis and Palestinians, both of whom are dependant on the fresh groundwater resources of the Mountain Aquifer.

For more information or to join a site tour, please contact Zach Tagar at: 03 5605383 (ext. 7) or 057 7492201.

For background information on sewage and solid waste pollution please see the EcoPeace’s publication Seeping Time Bomb at: http://www.ecopeaceme.org.