Listed below are recent events that have taken place in the framework of our ‘Water Cannot Wait’ project. All other events can be found throughout our Newsletters; link on our homepage.
[For publications relevant to this project, click here]
Diplomat Tour “Gaza on the Edge”
On October 24th, EcoPeace staff led a group of representatives of diplomatic missions and international organizations on a study tour of the Israeli areas neighboring the Gaza Strip. The tour “Gaza on the Edge” showed the transboundary implications of the Gaza water and sanitation crisis on the Israeli communities, proving that political borders do not apply to the environment. The participants had the chance to meet with Mayor Alon Shuster, one of the Israeli mayor signatories of a letter addressed to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Lieberman demanding that Israel takes action to solve Gaza’s water, energy and sanitation crisis. This event was undertaken in partnership with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Israel office.
EcoPeace Director gives a TedX talk during WATEC exhibition
On September 13th, Israeli Director Gidon Bromberg participated in the first ever TedX Tel Aviv Salon talk on WATER, which was organized within the framework of the WATEC Exhibition and Conference. Mr. Bromberg, together with other prominent water experts, was asked to share his thoughts on the role people can play in preserving the most valuable resource for humanity. Building on his 23 year experience as co-founder and co-director of EcoPeace Middle East, Mr. Bromberg addressed issues of water security in the region, highlighting how water diplomacy is fundamental in ensuring equitable access and sustainable use of water resources.
EcoPeace staff at the Euro-Israel Forum for Strategic Dialogue
On September 25th, the Euro-Israel Forum for Strategic Dialogue, the European Leadership Network, (ELNET), and the European Policy Center (EPC) held a conference in Brussels that focused on regional cooperation and stabilization, and Israel – EU relations. EcoPeace’s Government Relations Officer, Uri Ginott, moderated a panel named “Tackling Water Diplomacy and Security in the Middle East” that included high level panelists from both the EU and Israel.
US Envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, and Israeli Mayor, Alon Schuster, discussing the Gaza crisis
EcoPeace Middle East’s “Good Water Neighbors” project again proved its worth by showing its ability to motivate mayors to take leading action on cross border water issues; in this case, trying to prevent further deterioration in the Gaza water and sanitation crises. Learn more in these Jerusalem Post articles: Israeli Mayors to the U.S.: Help Resolve Gaza Electricity, Water Crisis and COGAT Works to Thwart Disease from Sewage Pollution.
Tour with Israeli MK Zouheir Bahloul
EcoPeace toured the Israeli communities that are situated around the Gaza Strip together with Member of Knesset Zouheir Bahloul (Labor Party), who is a member of the Interior Affairs and Environmental Protection Committee. The visit included the Erez checkpoint where sewage flows into Israel from Gaza, the Ziqim beach that was recently closed due to water pollution from Gaza, and the viewpoint of Gaza from the Anzac monument. Gidon Bromberg, EcoPeace’s Israeli Director, described to MK Bahloul the current environmental and humanitarian issues in Gaza and their direct impact on Israel including the health risks on both sides of the border.
New Water Agreement Between Israel and the PA
We at EcoPeace are glad to share with you the news of a very positive development regarding water issues in the region. After years’ of negotiations, on July 13th, under the auspices of U.S. Middle East Envoy Jason Greenblatt, a deal was finally reached between Israel’s Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, and Minister Mazen Ghoneim, Head of the Palestinian Water Authority. According to the agreement, Israel will sell 33 million cubic meters (mcm) of water to the PA, 10mcm of which will go to Gaza and 23mcm to the West Bank. EcoPeace contributed to the developments that led to this deal and we congratulate all the parties involved in this important achievement. The additional water for Gaza is of particular importance at this time. It is important to remember however that while it will alleviate the dire water crisis that is affecting the lives of millions of Palestinians, this is still a technical deal and not the political agreement that we at EcoPeace have been advocating for many years.
EcoPeace in the Israeli Knesset
Gidon Bromberg, EcoPeace’s Israeli Director, voiced our concerns at an emergency session of the Knesset’s Interior Affairs and Environment Committee convening to discuss the Gaza sanitation crises. Sewage flowing from the Gaza Strip into the Mediterranean led to the Israeli Health Ministry closing down two beaches, and a ground water pumping station due to sewage accumulating in Wadi Hanun, near the Israeli border. (Photo opposite) With no better example than this to demonstrate the interdependency of our shared environment, EcoPeace is calling on all sides to reconsider the cut in electricity to Gaza in order to avoid a humanitarian, ecological and security disaster. Read more in these articles by the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz.
EcoPeace “Water Cannot Wait” Project Highlighted in New Academic Research Report
A new research report, A future for Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding, authored by Dr. Ned Lazarus, a visiting Professor at George Washington University and before that the Middle East Program Director for Seeds of Peace, shows that; grassroots Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding projects work!; are a vital missing ingredient in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process; and should receive much more support from the international community. EcoPeace’s ‘Water Cannot Wait’ project was a case study for the report, with one of the key findings stating that “Peace building projects change policy”. The report is also prefaced by Jonathan Powell, the chief British negotiator during the Northern Ireland Peace Process.
IDC event with EcoPeace
On June 20, EcoPeace Middle East, INSS and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung held a roundtable event on “Water Security – Challenges and Opportunities for Cooperation in the Middle East” as part of the prestigious Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya Conference. The event welcomed a great number of distinguished experts, academia, representatives of the international community and government officials, to discuss challenges and opportunities regarding water security in the region. Our presentations and much of the discussions focused on the need to promote a broader water security understanding between Israelis and Palestinians, and the need to develop a water security dialogue between Israel, her neighbors, and the international community.
Following up on Israeli Comptroller’s Report
Further to the item last month, regarding the Israeli Comptroller’s Report, that revealed the dire reality of present cross-border Israeli Palestinian water issues, Gidon Bromberg, EcoPeace Israeli Director spoke at two events this month that reviewed the recommendations of the report. At a session during the annual Environment Day in the Israeli Knesset, as well as in the Rivers’ Workshop – that this month was dedicated specifically to reviewing the Comptrollers report – Mr. Bromberg reiterated its findings as regards to cross border water management: the need for orderly clear government policy that assigns responsibility, leadership and coordination to one government body. He presented the urgency of the situation in Gaza as an example of the failure of past policies.
EcoPeace Middle East was invited by the Spanish NGO “Fundacion Promocion Social de la Cultura” to hold a round table discussion titled “From Crisis to Opportunity – Water and Sustainable Development in the Middle East” on June 13th in Madrid, hosted by the Casa Arabe and with the support of the Spanish Cooperation. Gidon Bromberg, Nada Majdalani and Giulia Giordano spoke on regional water security issues, including the case of the Jordan River and the water crisis in Gaza. The roundtable saw the very positive participation of high level speakers, including H.E. Mazen Ghuneim, Palestinian Minister of Water.
US Congress letter to U.S. President Trump
Following up on EcoPeace’s congressional briefing earlier this year, U.S. Congress Members called on U.S. President Trump to move forward on water issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “In your effort to build peace between Israelis and Palestinians… we urge you to prioritize the issue of water,” the lawmakers wrote Trump in an official letter…. (click here for an article in the Jerusalem Post).
Israel’s State Comptroller Report on Transboundary Water Issues
The Israeli State Comptroller’s report, published in May 2017, reveals the dire reality of present cross-border Israeli / Palestinian water issues. The report backs EcoPeace’s claims regarding policy failures and highlights the need to foster cooperation between Israeli and the Palestinian governments. The report calls for the formulation of a master plan of formulating an orderly government policy that assigns responsibility, leadership and coordination to one government body, in consultation with civil society organizations experienced in the field of environmental cooperation. Click here for a link to the Executive Summary (EcoPeace’s non-official English translation), as well as our press release on the issue, and a subsequent Jerusalem Post article.
POLICY WORKSHOP: Gaza 2020: Imagining another Future
On May 25th, the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung convened an expert workshop on the future of aid, reconstruction and development in the Gaza Strip. A decade after the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the situation there is both urgent and critical, from a security, economic, environmental, humanitarian, and political perspective.EcoPeace Israeli Co-Director Gidon Bromberg and EcoPeace staff Giulia Giordano and Uri Ginott participated in the workshop together with key Israeli, Palestinian and international stakeholders. They contributed to discussions on Gaza’s future by highlighting the urgency of the water and sanitation solutions needed.
EcoPeace Jordanian and Israeli co-directors Munqeth Meyhar and Gidon Bromberg were invited to take part in a multi-faith event at the Wembley Central Mosque in London titled “Discussing the Journey to Freedom, Ethical Responsibility and Practical Collaboration”. EcoPeace’s practical work to advance cross-border cooperation on environmental issues, specifically water, was the topic of discussion.
Gidon Bromberg and Ambassador Oded Eran were invited to speak at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) in London about the strategic and security implications of water and other environmental issues on the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as their impact on neighboring countries including Jordan. Although the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians has stalled, cooperation continues on common environmental issues. These issues, especially relating to shared water resources, have implications for both the security and the quality of life of Israelis, Palestinians and their neighbors. Dana Allin, IISS Senior Fellow, moderated the discussion.
EcoPeace Co-Directors in Oxford
EcoPeace Jordanian and Israeli co-directors Munqeth Meyhar and Gidon Bromberg attended the Skoll World Forum, which took place in Oxford in early April. Each year, nearly 1,000 of the world’s most influential social entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and strategic partners gather to exchange ideas, solutions, and information. The directors also had a chance to meet with World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim. A highlight of the trip to Oxford this year was their opportunity to meet with Lord Alderdice, former leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland who played a significant role in the talks on Northern Ireland, including the negotiation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The Middle East region certainly has much to learn from him.
EcoPeace Director at the European Parliament
The Multinational Policy Development Dialogue of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung organized an experts’ lunch discussion in the European Parliament on the water-security-nexus in the Middle East. EcoPeace Middle East Israeli co-director Gidon Bromberg was invited to present EcoPeace’s perspective on regional water security issues, together with Mr. Marc Frings, Head of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung office in Ramallah, and His Excellency Shaddad Al Attili, former Head of the Palestinian Water Authority and lead Palestinian negotiator for water and former Minister of Water.
Israeli Co-Director Touring the U.S.
EcoPeace’s Israeli Director Gidon Bromberg was busy touring the U.S. during the latter half of March, participating in discussions and conferences from New York to Washington DC. Mr. Bromberg and the Director for EcoPeace’s new Center for Water Security, Marina Djernaes, represented EcoPeace on March 20th at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. Their topic of discussion was titled “From Scarcity to Security: Water as a Resource for Middle East Peacebuilding”. Additionally, Mr. Bromberg presented a briefing at the U.S. Congress on water security issues in the Middle East. He presented the concept that water diplomacy can play a significant role to improve the livelihoods and enhance stability within the region. He spoke of the recent agreement to renew the joint Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee, the water and sanitation crisis in Gaza, and opportunities for moving forward on water issues.
EcoPeace staff Speaks with the Visiting Danish Minister of Environment
The Danish Ambassador to Israel invited EcoPeace staff to give an overview of Israeli Palestinian cross-border water issues to a delegation of visiting diplomats from Denmark, including their Minister of Environment & Food, and several Embassy staff. Focusing on our “Water Cannot Wait” campaign, and especially the water crisis looming in the Gaza strip, we explained that with today’s desalination bolstering Israel’s water economy, Israel can afford to share water more equitably with Palestinians, as no sector in Israel would have its water allocation reduced. And the “political gain” of such a move would be extremely welcomed internationally! The Minister was deeply appreciative of EcoPeace’s approach, and said on Danish Public Radio following the meeting, that he will do what he can to help move this issue forward!
Israel and the Palestinian Authority Re-establish Joint Water Committee
As many of our supporters may know, we have spent the past few years, via our Water Cannot Wait campaign, highlighting the lose–lose implications of prevailing water arrangements between Israelis and Palestinians. Though all the details have yet to be made public, the Joint Water Committee is now being re-initiated under new terms. This will help advance on-the-ground water supply and sanitation solutions to improve the livelihoods and environment for Palestinians and Israelis alike. The agreement however, still falls short of our objective to reach an equitable agreement on the fair and sustainable management of shared water and environmental resources. An equitable agreement will have a transformative impact that will contribute to the building of trust and confidence between the parties. Read more about these developments here.
EcoPeace, KAS and INSS – Water Conference
In cooperation with the German foundation ‘Konrad Adenauer Stiftung – Israel’ (KAS), and the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), EcoPeace Tel Aviv held a roundtable event entitled “Can Water Bring the Political Process to A Safe Shore? Water Issues; from Source of Conflict to Vehicle for Regional Cooperation and Stability” at the INSS, in Tel Aviv. The event brought together Israeli water experts and international stakeholders to discuss the benefits of moving forward on water, and included panel discussions together with the keynote speech by Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation, Ayoub Kara. One of the conference’s highlights was a statement made by Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen, Head of the EU Delegation to Israel: “We’ve spent too much time promoting an Israeli-Palestinian solution that is all or nothing, (…) We have got to revise our approach to the peace process, which would allow us to address the issue of water and a number of other issues also (…) What we need to do is build up basic confidence on the ground through an approach of small steps.” This change of approach has the potential to bring about new and more effective policies to advance the resolution of Israeli-Palestinian water issues. Click on the hyperlinks for a video of the speech made by EU Ambassador Faaborg-Anderson, and for a Jerusalem Post article about the event.