There is also, however, a very special opportunity for eco-tourism right here within our own borders – and those of our neighbors. Since 2007, the tri-national NGO Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) has organized a series of “Neighbor’s Paths,” community-based eco-tours that deal with both water and peace-building between Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian communities.
The Neighbors’ Paths project is part of FoEME’s Good Water Neighbors project, which works with communities that share a common water source. The paths highlight sights that illustrate each community’s water history and current water reality. In the Palestinian village of Auja, for instance, visitors stop at Ein Auja (Auja Spring), the community’s historical water source, where they can also learn about water struggles between Palestinian farmers and Israeli settlers.
Within the genre of eco-tourism, the Neighbors’ Paths are unique because they emphasize mutual dependence on shared water resources and the need for cross-border cooperation to protect those resources.
The first stop on the Emek Hefer tour in Israel, for instance, is the Yad Hannah Wastewater Treatment Plant, a water treatment facility that is the result of cooperation between Emek Hefer’s City Council and the Mayor of Tulkarem, Emek Hefer’s Palestinian partner. The facility treats wastewater from both Palestinian and Israeli sources, and protects the Alexander River, which Israelis and Palestinians share.
There are 17 Neighbors Paths throughout Israel, the Palestinian Territories, and Jordan. For more information, visit FoEME’s website on the Neighbors Path project.