Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz and his Greek and Cypriot counterparts declared their intent to sign a tripartite agreement toward protecting the Mediterranean Sea, his ministry announced on Wednesday.
Peretz and his colleagues, the Cypriot Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Nicos Kouyialis and the Greek Environment, Energy Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis, plan to sign an agreement in June that will foster cooperation on Mediterranean environmental issues, with a focus on preventing sea pollution from natural-gas drilling and economic activity.
By establishing such a joint force, the ministers aim to prevent disasters such as the 2010 oil spill that hit the Gulf of Mexico, the ministry said.
The ministers declared their intentions at the Union for the Mediterranean Ministerial Meeting on Environment and Climate Change in Athens on Tuesday. The Union for the Mediterranean was established by 43 European and Mediterranean governments in 2008 with a mission of promoting regional cooperation projects and revitalizing the Mediterranean.
More than 40 ministers and senior representatives from Europe and the region attended the conference, including representatives from Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority.
In addition to advocating environmental cooperation around the Mediterranean, Peretz emphasized on Tuesday his disappointment in the crisis surrounding the peace talks to the other officials.
“The sea is the same sea, and the neighbors will remain the same neighbors, so we have to find a way to live together, country next to country,” he said. “A Palestinian state is not only in the interest of Israel and the Palestinians, but it is also in the interest of all the countries that take part in this conference.
“The region’s countries must unite so that widespread economic activity in the Mediterranean Sea will leverage cooperation for peace and for the environment,” Peretz added.
Jordanian Environment Minister Taher al-Shakhshir welcomed his colleague’s words and reinforced the need for peace and the establishment of two states for two peoples, the Israeli ministry said.