(photo credit: Associated Press)
Environmental advocacy group Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) is
launching a program during Succot called “Neighbors Paths.”
The goal is
to take visitors on tours of the main water sources shared by Israel and its
neighbors to highlight the importance of water to regional peace.
program includes eight walking tours, all of which end on one of Israel’s
borders, either with the Palestinian Authority or with Jordan. The program shows
visitors the history and realities of water issues in the area, thereby
providing insights into the lives of townspeople and villagers.
tours, which are all community- based, connect the issue of water with the
efforts to build peace between Israel, Jordan and the PA, which all share water
sources. Similar programs will take place on the Jordanian and Palestinian
sides. Altogether there are 17 Neighbors paths in the region.
to Michal Sagive, the program’s Israeli coordinator, the tours aim to show the
mutual dependence on shared water resources and the need for cooperation in
protecting those resources.
“Many of the region’s water sources and the
ecosystems they support are at risk of irreversible degradation. Unsustainable
development patterns in the past, massive water diversion and uncoordinated
planning between Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian governmental authorities
have all contributed to this present state of demise.”
Sagive said that
the tours are a great opportunity to learn firsthand about the critical role
that water plays in the region and added that they are suitable for a wide range
of people, from families to students to foreign tourists.
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not many people know about the importance of water to coexistence and
for peace. People might have heard about ‘the water issues’ discussed in
Oslo peace agreement, but those who come on the tours can see for
things play out on the ground.
Our tours offer historical surveys of the
water issues, talk about how things developed over the years and
of the problems, both environmental and social that have arisen over
“The paths highlight the rich history found in the region
but also reveal degradation and pollution, often ‘not seen’ by local
themselves and certainly not usually shown to tourists.”
Sagive, all of the tours are led by local community members, who have an
intimate knowledge of the area and its challenges. In most places tours
conducted in both Hebrew and English.
The Israeli Neighbors paths are
located in the Jordan Valley, the Beit She’an Valley, the Dead Sea, the
Mountains, the Hefer Valley, the Judean Hills and the Gilboa area.
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