July 19, 2007 – Israeli / Palestinian Mayors sign on MoU

A Memorandum of Understanding for strengthening cooperation on environmental issues was signed by the municipalities of Palestinian Baka el Sharkia and Israeli Baka el Gharbia/Jat

July 19, 2007

Under the auspices of EcoPeace Middle East and the organization’s “Good Water Neighbors” project, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed today between the Mayor of the Palestinian town of Baka el Sharkia, Mr. Moayad Hussein, and the Mayor of the Israeli city of Baka el Gharbia-Jat, Mr. Yitzchak Vald. The mayors agree to strengthen cooperation between the 2 municipalities in order to preserve the natural heritage in the region in respect to environment and water concerns.

The Mountain Aquifer is the most important underground water source for both Israelis and Palestinians, and is being threatened by pollution from sewage and solid waste. The Mayors declare their commitment to the protection of the Mountain Aquifer by prohibiting the use of cesspits that have negative impacts and cause pollution of the ground water. In addition, the mayors declare their agreement to connect their sewage networks to the new treatment plant in Baka el Gharbia-Jat. The ability to jointly treat wastewater will bring about a solution to this difficult sanitation problem.

The Mayors also declare the importance of cleaning up Wadi Abu Nar, a stream that flows through both municipalities. Today, the Wadi is polluted and is a health hazard to the residents of both communities.

The Mayors recognize the necessity of allocating resources and funding for joint projects between the two towns, to increase exchange visits between the two town’s officials. The social and geographical connections that tie both municipalities necessitate increased cooperation for the benefit of the region.

With the exception of El Bireh, no other village in the West Bank has a waste water treatment plant. Due to the geographic proximity of these 2 communities and their use of the Mt. Aquifer’s waters, Israel has a clear interest to promote solutions like this for waste water as well as solid waste in the West Bank.

Although Israel and the PA both have an interest in promoting such projects to protect their shared water sources, agreements of this sort are nevertheless rare.

For more information, contact:
Michal Sagive
Coordinator “Good Water Neighbors” project
EcoPeace Middle East