January 31, 2014 – WATER CANNOT WAIT campaign launch

WATER CANNOT WAIT campaign launch

January 31, 2014
Tel Aviv

EcoPeace Middle East launched a campaign in Israel this week, entitled “Water Cannot Wait“, with full page adds appearing in all major Hebrew newspapers, having launched a similar campaign in Palestine a month earlier. The campaign calls on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and US Secretary of State John Kerry to urgently move forward on environment and water issues in the current negotiations.

EcoPeace, together with the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) held a conference as part of the launch in Tel Aviv, entitled “Cross Border Environmental Issues and Water Resources in the Context of the Peace Process“. The conference featured Israeli Justice Minister & Chief Israeli negotiator Ms. Tzipi Livni, renowned NY Times journalist Thomas Friedman and a panel of water experts, to discuss the need for joint management of cross-border environmental issues, with a particular focus on the urgency of dealing with water as one of the final status issues of the peace process.

From the expert’s panel, Prof. Uri Shani, former Israeli Water Commissioner and current Israeli representative in talks with the Palestinians and Jordanians on water, talked about the water crisis in Gaza and the political deadlock preventing a solution: “Lack of water is so important that no government can use water as a prisoner of war to solve the conflict. It’s impossible.”

Dr. Mohammed Hamaidi, former Director General of the Palestinian Ministry of the Environment said: “We all believe that the scarcity of natural resources, the need to protect the environment, Mother Nature, cannot wait any longer…. let us put hands together and protect the environment before it is too late.”

EcoPeace will invest a million shekels in the campaign over the coming weeks to educate the Israeli public – citing for them, clearly, 10 REASONS why water and environment solutions can no longer wait – and aimed at creating political will that water and environment issues move forward under US State Secretary Kerry’s framework agreement.

At the conference, Minister Livni described how “everything is connected in this small piece of land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River” and stressed that water and environment issues are “a common denominator”. She said “we have a common interest to work together, to share water, to work together toward improving the environment, yet, the fact that we have this conflict going on for so many years affects the possibility of solving these issues…. But we need to give an answer to the core issues, including water.”

Thomas Friedman, NY Times journalist, describing the importance of the environment in the region; “one ‘ism’ that hasn’t yet been tried in the Middle East: Environmentalism”. And in talking about the peace process and the consequences of its failure, he warned Israelis and Palestinians that “Kerry’s mission is the last train to a negotiated two-state solution. The next train is the one coming AT you”.

For more information: 
Gidon Bromberg, EcoPeace Israeli Director; gidon@ecopeaceme.org , 052-4532597