January 11, 2007 – Jordanian, Israeli Mayors Sign on Cross Border Agreement

JORDANIAN, ISRAELI MAYORS SIGN ON MOU TO ADVANCE CROSS BORDER PARK AT THE ROTENBURG / NAHARAYIM / GESHER SITE

January 11, 2007

Yesterday, at the initiation of EcoPeace Middle East, an historic Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Mayors from Israel and Jordan, recognizing the value and importance of rehabilitating the Jordan River and identifying the potential of advancing peace through creating a cross border park, based on ecological values and cultural heritage.

Signing on the agreement were Eng. Abdullah Salman, Mayor of Mu’az Bin Jabal municipality in Jordan, and Israeli Mayors of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, Mr. Yossi Vardi and Beit She’an Valley Regional Council, Mr. Dani Tamari.

According to Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director of EcoPeace Middle East, signing of the agreement – despite ongoing political tensions – “is a result of recognition from both sides that it is not possible today to live on agriculture alone; new possibilities need to be developed.” He adds that “the suggested park will offer another source of income for the residents as well as advancing the rehabilitation of the Jordan River”.

The mayors declared that their intention is to create a cross border park bird sanctuary, eco-lodges and a visitor’s center, in the area of Bakoora / Naharayim / Gesher, using the infrastructure still intact at the old Rotenberg site. Other developments include cultural heritage sites at the Roman and Ottoman bridges at Gesher, the Mamluk Khan and the old customs house at the Gesher site.

Jordanian Director of EcoPeace Middle East, Mr. Munqeth Mehyar, declared that “the signing of the agreement will push the Israeli and Jordanian governments to live up to the 1994 Peace Treaty between the 2 countries, promising to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River”.

To date, the Lower Jordan River is severely polluted and has literally been turned into a sewage canal, creating a serious hazard for the ecosystem.

Mayors and citizens of the area are determined to reverse this situation and return the area to its once thriving state.

For more information, please contact Mira Edelstein, 054-6392937, or [email protected]

This activity is part of the “Good Water Neighbors” project, supported by the European Union, the British Government and the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Foundation.