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Environmental peace treaty between Israel and Palestinians unveiled at Ben-Gurion University

SEDE BOQER, ISRAEL - May 29, 2008 A model for an agreement on environmental cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians was unveiled this week at the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research (BIDR) of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

The agreement was created by Prof. Alon Tal, a member of the Swiss Institute for Dryland Research at the BIDR and Dr. Mohammad Said Al-Hmaida from Bir Zeit University.

Tal is a long-time environmental activist who founded the a public interest advocacy group Adam Teva V'din the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, while Al-Hmaidi is a past director general of the Ministry of the Environment of the Palestinian Authority. The agreement was outlined at a presentation, Creating an Environment for Peace, during BGUs 38th Annual Board of Governors Meeting.

Recognizing the proximity of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples and the critical importance of protecting transboundary resources, Tal and Al-Hmaida initiated this cooperative project that has spanned several months of research and negotiations. Together they have drafted a model agreement that covers all aspects of the shared environmental issues, including environmental impact statements, hazardous materials, air quality, nature preservation and solid waste.

The ambitious project was undertaken in consultation with international environmental legal experts and peer review teams of Israeli and Palestinian experts. It calls for establishing a joint professional committee of environmental managers from both groups joined by international representatives that would be empowered to oversee many aspects of environmental issues in the region.

According to Tal, the agreement would encourage joint management over shared resources. For example, Israelis and Palestinians would both be directly involved in the physical planning of areas on both sides which are adjacent to the borders. Israel would have a say in the sewage treatment strategy in the Palestinian sector which directly affects our water resources, just as the Palestinians would have access to monitoring of Israeli air pollution sources that are transboundary and impact their air quality.

The model agreement has been submitted to Israel's Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Palestinian negotiating team on the environment.

The event also included "Transboundary Environmental Research": presentations by Jordanian, Palestinian and Arab and Jewish Israeli graduate students from the Albert Katz International School for Desert Studies, who discussed various joint environmental projects with a regional impact.

This event reflects the continued commitment of BGU and the BIDR, not only to academic excellence, but also to reach out to societal needs of Israel and it neighboring countries, said Prof. Avigad Vonshak, director of the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research.


Contact: Andrew Lavin
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

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