Abu Dis landfill 311.
(photo credit: Marc Sellem Israel/The Jerusalem Post)
It is generally believed that the geopolitical divisions between Palestinians
and Israelis in Judea and Samaria have not allowed them to reach an
understanding on a number of issues. After living in the Binyamin Region for 38
years, I can point to a series of agreements that have been reached – despite
the tensions and security threats – between residents regarding civil matters
that are essential to the fabric of daily life.
As a result of the great
efforts of the Judea and Samaria regional manager, a joint national committee
was established to protest the construction of a garbage dump next to the Nahal
Makak nature reserve, which has significant hydrological and aesthetic
“The environmental coalition has no borders” committee includes
public leaders and residents from Ramun (which lies just east of Ofra), Beduin,
Palestinians and residents from the Jericho area who are coordinating efforts
with Israelis who live in Rimonim, Ma’aleh Michmash and Kochav Hashachar. The
Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and the Green Now organization
are also involved in the committee.
The plan to construct a landfill
conflicts with the Environmental Protection Ministry’s position, adopted over a
decade ago, calling for an end to burying waste underground due to soil and
groundwater contamination, as well as land shortages. Instead, new and
innovative technologies should be promoted.
At the planning committee
hearing, officials argued that the creation of a landfill would make it easier
to close down pirate garbage sites in the region. In addition, they stated that
the site would be supervised and monitored by the Civil Administration,
landowners in the area are in agreement, and that recycling facilities would be
stationed on the site.
But these arguments are insufficient and should be
rejected outright. The construction of a landfill in proximity to a nature
reserve would severely damage the vegetation in the area. The suggested
treatment facility does not properly address environmental needs, since
contamination of the nearby river would be irreversible.
The rare iris
flowers that are indigenous to the region would be harmed, and leachate (water
that has percolated through waste material) would contaminate the nature
reserve, as well as the Jordan Valley.
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Both landowners and Beduin who
have been living in the region for many years strongly oppose the plan, and
recently submitted a written appeal to the Civil
Entrepreneurs’ claim that the landfill is safe and would
not cause environmental damage is a pure sham. When we inspected a similar
facility in the Jenin area, we found that it had been neglected and had caused
There is no reason we should adopt outdated and
ineffective environmental approaches in the West Bank which would never be
accepted anywhere else in Israel. A solution that meets the needs and criteria
of all population centers in the area and that utilizes advanced methods should
be implemented. We should construct a closed facility that produces compost and
energy and meets Israeli standards – not those of the third
Hydrologists and environmentalists, including Prof. Haim Gvirtzman
and Prof. Amos Fromkin of the Hebrew University, as well as officials from the
Israel Hydrological Service and ecologists have warned against the potential
dangers to the land and drinking water in the Jericho area due to the proximity
of a geological fault-line and the outdated methods used at the site. A true
assessment of the environmental impact of alternatives was never even carried
The time has come for the Environmental Protection Ministry to adopt
an environmental policy in the West Bank that has no borders, which would
provide a uniform and all-inclusive solution. It is inconceivable that the Civil
Administration would promote a plan that is dangerous and that contradicts the
master plan for waste removal adopted just a few years ago.The author is
the executive director of the Municipal Environmental Association of
Translated by Hannah Hochner.
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