Earth Day 2014 - Focus on Advancing Middle East Water Solutions
2014-04-22

MEDIA RELEASE

EARTH DAY 2014 – FOCUS ON ADVANCING MIDDLE EAST WATER SOLUTIONS

April 22, 2014

On this Earth Day, April 22 2014, EcoPeace / Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME), together with countless organizations across the globe, call for environmental action towards the betterment of the world's communities and cities, including investments in renewal energy, implementing environmental education curricula, greening of schools, and taking action towards solving the world's climate crisis.

WATER must take center stage in this particular region, where impending climate change is expected to further worsen the situation of the area's long periods of droughts, and where the ongoing political conflict holds water and environmental issues hostage to the failure to move negotiations forward. The Oslo Interim water agreement, signed in 1995, was envisioned to last only 5 years. However, it remains operational despite the near doubling of populations and the dramatic changes in technological innovation.

The looming crisis expected here if negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians fail, brings the water issue to an even greater sense of urgency. FoEME has published Fact Sheets highlighting why water and environment solutions can no longer wait. FoEME's "Water Cannot Wait" campaign, launched earlier in January, is aimed at creating political will so that water and environment issues move forward.

Nader Khateeb, FoEME's Palestinian Director says "the water crisis that Palestinians will face this summer is another reason why US Secretary of State Kerry's efforts must succeed. It is imperative to replace the failed existing water management structure (the Joint Water Committee) with a new structure that provides Palestinians with a rightful share of shared waters, and leads to rapid investments in sanitation solutions that are currently responsible for polluting scarce Palestinian and Israeli sources of natural water."

In Gaza, the situation is dire: salinity levels have now risen well beyond the World Health Organization's recommendation for drinking water, further compounded by untreated sewage infiltrating the aquifer, also reaching the Mediterranean, making its way north to Israeli shores. Gaza residents are already drinking unhealthy water, and if no alternative solutions are advanced, they are about to run out of potable water completely.

FoEME's Israeli Director, Gidon Bromberg, explains that "today, the higher availability of water resources in Israel, due to good practices in waste water reuse and new desalination plants in the country, means that the Israeli water economy has excess water. Therefore, solving the Israeli / Palestinian water issues comes at a low political cost to Israelis and with high political gain to Palestinians".

On this Earth Day, the call on our political leadership is loud and clear – return and move forward on political negotiations because Water Issues Cannot Wait!

For more information:
Gidon Bromberg; FoEME Israeli Director, gidon@foeme.org, 052-4532597
Nader Khateeb; FoEME Palestinian Director, nader@foeme.org, 059-9606544