Amir Peretz at Palmahim Beach 370.
(photo credit: Sharon Udasin)
Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz has been elected to serve on the
European Environment and Health Ministerial Board of the World Health
Organization, the Environmental Protection Ministry told The Jerusalem Post on
At the board meeting held in Belgrade, Serbia, on Sunday, Peretz
was the only minister to receive resounding applause at his election, the
During a speech delivered to the environment and health
ministers from various nations, he stressed the need for cross-border
cooperation on environmental issues.
“As defense minister [2006- 2007], I
saw before my eyes the interests of Israel within borders, but as the
environmental protection minister, the fields under my responsibility straddle
everyone’s space and involve the welfare of all the citizens of the region,”
Peretz said. “Without close cooperation with our neighbors in the Middle East
and among them, the Palestinians, we cannot generate a real environmental
revolution. Air pollution has no boundaries, and for the river in the Judean
Desert that was destroyed by sewage, it does not matter if the effluent that
poisoned it came from an Israeli or Palestinian city.”
Peretz said that
when he was defense minister, he sworn to uphold Israel’s security by protecting
quality of life, the environment and peace. Following a Yom Kippur War injury he
was confined to a wheelchair for two years, he said. When he could once again
stand, he promised himself to fight for both Israeli security and the country’s
integration into the Middle East.
The European Environment and Health
Ministerial Board consists of four health ministers, four environment ministers
and four representatives of intergovernmental organizations.
environmental colleagues are Belgian Environment, Land Use Planning and Mobility
Minister Philippe Henry, Ukrainian Ecology and Natural Resources Minister Oleg
Proskurjakov and Moldovan Environment Minister Gheorghe Salaru.
Sunday’s ministerial board meeting, the officials discussed the 2010 Parma
Declaration on Environment and Health, whose stipulations include promoting
social and environmental issues such as access to water and air
Peretz, who was leading a discussion among the environment
ministers on the subject, acknowledged that no operative recommendations had yet
been made on the subject. He therefore asked to stop the discussion and organize
a meeting of the ministers outside the hall, during which they formulated an
As part of this statement, the ministers agreed that
within one month they would distribute letters to the 53 member states of the
WHO European region asking that they take into account and integrate
international agreements and cross-border environmental protocols described in
the Parma Declaration.
The ministers also recommended that the WHO
European Environment and Health Youth Coalition be expanded from 24 member
states to include all 53 members, noting that each year the coalition must
report on the progress of its activities to the ministerial board. In line with
this decision, Peretz instructed his office to examine how Israeli youth can
promote environmental and health issues within their communities.
year, the ministerial board will place a particular emphasis on air quality and
its impact on public health.
Relating to air quality, Peretz stressed the
importance of promoting environmental policies that are accompanied by health
and economic incentives, such as creating taxes that promote the use of greener