August 15, 2010 – BIG JUMP 2010


August 15, 2010 / Tel Aviv

The “BIG JUMP” takes place throughout Europe calling for local citizens to take responsibility for their rivers, and calling upon our governments to support their rehabilitation. Today’s BIG JUMP did the same in the Middle East’s famous Jordan River.

Following EcoPeace Middle East’s latest research that has identified a regional strategy to rehabilitate the River, this event highlights the urgency of the situation.

Of the original 1.3 billion cubic meters of clean water that in the past flowed down the lower Jordan each year, only 2% currently flows and much of this flow is sewage and diverted saline spring water. Massive water diversion, closed borders and sewage discharge have compromised the natural and cultural heritage of the Lower Jordan River.

EcoPeace has initiated this regional gathering of mayors, municipal representatives and youth – from Israel, Palestine and Jordan – who have built rafts together, and then “JUMPED” into the Lower Jordan River. The message is clear: this is a region-wide call aimed at our governments that need to step up efforts to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River.

The event took place at Yardenit, just south of Degania near the Sea of Galilee, on August 15th from 10:00 – 12:00. This is the last short stretch of the Lower Jordan River where clean water still flows.

Yossi Vardi, Israeli Mayor of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, said, “the Big Jump on the Jordan River is an expression of the mutual desire and the cooperation that we maintain with our Jordanian and Palestinian neighbors along the river for the purpose of changing the reality of the Jordan and of restoring it to its state in better and greater days, when clean water flowed in the Jordan and it served as a focus for hikers, vacationers and tourists as well as a water source, a source of life.”

Nader Khateeb, Palestinian Director of EcoPeace Middle East, said, “Palestinians saw great importance in the Big Jump event held today in the Jordan River. Palestinians demand a fair share of the Jordan River’s waters and seek to be partners with Jordan and Israel in the river’s rehabilitation. Historically Jericho was the principal access point for the baptism site on the River Jordan and we look forward to the near future when the River Jordan will contribute significantly to the Palestinian economy again.”

Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director of EcoPeace Middle East, explains that “we held here today an exceptional event with mayors, residents and youth from Israel, Palestine and Jordan. Everyone jumped together into the waters of the Lower Jordan River in its only clean stretch, a mere 2 kilometers long. By this action we call for the rehabilitation of the entire river along its full 100 km course to the Dead Sea for the good of all who dwell on its banks. This year’s call is an urgent one. Due to the success of projects to remove pollutants by the end of next year, Israel will no longer send sewage flowing into the Lower Jordan River. We welcome this but urgently call upon Uri Shani, the Head of the Israel Water Authority, to take the lead on a decision to reintroduce clean water flow from Israel into the Jordan River to avoid it drying up totally.”

For further information please contact:
Gidon Bromberg, EcoPeace Israeli Director, 972-52-4532597
Nader Khateeb, EcoPeace Palestinian Director, 970-59-9606544
Munqeth Mehyar, EcoPeace Jordanian Director, 962-777-548477