Cross-border environmental NGO, Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME), is getting work underway on establishing what it calls a ‘Peace Park’ to help rehabilitate the ailing River Jordan which runs along the border between Jordan and Israel (plus parts of the West Bank).
The Jordan Valley is an area with a rich natural, historical and cultural heritage, however, “excessive diversion and pollution of the Jordan River have left it little more than a sewage channel,” say FoEME, who believe that “as long as the public is denied access to the river bank, the river will continue to be polluted and local residents will be denied the opportunity to develop the area for tourism.”
The Peace Park would span both sides of the River so Mayors, municipal representatives and community members in both Jordan (Muaz Bin Jabal) and Israel (Jordan Valley and Beit Shean) have been working together with FoEME to kick-start the initiative.
The project is being dubbed the ‘King Abdullah I – Rotenberg Peace Park’, after Pinchas Rutenberg, a Russian immigrant and founder of the Palestine Electric Company (PEC), who, in 1927, reached a unique agreement with HM King Abdullah I of Jordan to build the company’s main hydroelectric power station. Dams and canals were built to harness the flow of the water at the junction between the Jordan and Yarmouk Rivers, creating a man-made island – the intended site of the Peace Park.