15 Years Since Historical Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty
2009-10-26
MEDIA RELEASE

15 Years Since Historical Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty - EcoPeace / Friends of the Earth Middle East Calls for Renewed Commitments to Rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River

October 26, 2009
Amman / Tel Aviv / Bethlehem


15 years ago today Israel and Jordan signed a historic Peace Treaty "recognizing their right and obligation to live in peace" and committing both States to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River.

Sadly, sampling undertaken this summer by Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) revealed a Jordan River in critical danger of ceasing to flow. Of the 1.3 billion cubic meters of fresh water that once flowed down the river to the Dead Sea, an estimated 95% of its waters are now diverted by Israel, Syria and Jordan for domestic and agricultural use. In place of fresh water, the river is kept alive by sewage, diverted saline springs and agricultural runoff which are dumped into the Jordan River.

"The peoples of the Jordan Basin desperately desire the 'peace of the brave' that the late King Hussein of Jordan declared in the 1994 Treaty of Peace and an essential aspect of the 'peace of the brave' must involve the fair share of waters in the Jordan Basin between the peoples of the basin and with nature" said Munqeth Mehyar, FoEME's Jordanian Director.

Over the last decade awareness of the demise of the river has slowly grown - with calls for its restoration being made loudly in recent years.

"After 15 years of working at the community level with youth, adult residents and mayors of fifteen of the most important Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli communities along the Jordan River Basin we see a strengthening of awareness regarding the need to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River as well as a recognition of the Palestinian Water Rights in the Jordan River Basin which will play a central role in the future Palestinian state" said Nader Khateeb, FoEME's Palestinian Director.

Furthermore some concrete actions are taking place to remove pollutants.

"In Israel, a sewage treatment plant has been completed in the community of Beit Shean that will end the current practice of untreated sewage from the Beit Shean area being dumped into the river. The Jordan Valley Regional Council, also in Israel, has taken a large loan to start the design and building of a new sewage treatment plant that will treat the sewage of Tiberias and Sea of Galilee communities also presently being discharged into the river" said Gidon Bromberg, FoEME's Israeli Director.

With efforts being taken to remove the sewage, FoEME calls upon Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian leaders to take concrete steps to bring fresh water back to the Jordan River. A cooperative effort to rehabilitate the Jordan River can serve as a catalyst for numerous regional projects to enact the vision laid out in the 1994 Peace Treaty.

For more information please visit www.foeme.org and contact:

- Nader Al Khateeb, Director of Friends of the Earth Middle East, Bethlehem
Tel: 972 522875022, nader@foeme.org (spoken languages: English and Arabic)

- Elizabeth Ya'ari, Jordan River Project Coordinator, Friends of the Earth Middle East, Tel Aviv
Tel: 972 52 6633488, elizabeth@foeme.org (spoken languages: English)

- Abed Sultan, Deputy Director of Friends of the Earth Middle East, Amman
Tel: 962 777 548477, munqeth@foeme.org (spoken languages: English and Arabic)

- Mira Edelstein, Foreign Media Officer, Friends of the Earth Middle East
Tel: 972 54 6392937, mira@foeme.org (spoken languages: English and Hebrew)