Jordanians & Israelis Meet IN the Waters of the Lower Jordan River
2006-04-16
EARTH DAY EVENT

April 16, 2006:

To mark this year's "Earth Day", a delegation of Jordanians and Israelis will meet halfway IN the waters of the Lower Jordan River, to measure the depth, speed and quality of the water.

Participating will be Mayors from the communities of both the Israeli and Jordanian sides of the River. The Mayors will release a 'message in a bottle' expressing their common call to rehabilitate the Jordan River and save the Dead Sea.

The event organized by Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) will be held on Thursday, April 20th at 10:30 at the Gesher / Old Bridges site, near the 2,000 year old Roman bridge still standing at the site. This year, the giant Internet engine Yahoo! with 500 million hits a month, will focus on the Jordan River and Dead Sea for its Earth Day International posting. See http://adventures.yahoo.com for postings of their reports.

"This Earth Day we are calling on our governments to clean up this River", says Gidon Bromberg, Israeli director of Friends of the Earth Middle East. "Because the lower Jordan River is a closed military area, the general public has been left oblivious to its fate. There is no better way to bring public attention for the need for rehabilitation then by testing its waters while meeting together in the River".

The Jordan River, a holy site for Christians, Jews and Muslims, is drying up due to diversion of its waters upstream. With the building of a new dam that will capture winter floodwaters from the Yarmuk River, the Jordan's largest tributary, the river is under threat of drying up altogether. Water that does flow down the River today is mostly polluted with sewage and saline water.

Munqeth Mehyar, Chairman and Jordanian director of Friends of the Earth Middle East, says "it's as if we are competing as to who can do the most damage to this river. The peace treaty of 1994 between Israel and Jordan commits to the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River, but in over a decade the situation has only gotten worse."

FoEME has called on its respective governments to place the Jordan River on UNESCO's World Heritage list. This will ensure a cooperative sustainable management plan, as well as attracting tourism to the area - a necessary economic initiative for the rehabilitation of the River.

Friends of the Earth Middle East is a regional organization, with offices in Tel Aviv, Amman and Bethlehem. FoEME deals with transboundary environmental issues while promoting peace in the region.

For more information, please contact Mira Edelstein at mira@foeme.org Tel: 03-5605383 ext. 3, or 054-6392937

This event is being held with the support of the EU Partnerships for Peace program, the Finnish Embassy in Tel Aviv, and Global Nature Fund that declared the Dead Sea as this year's "Threatened Lake of the Year"