Jan 03, 2013
Friends of the Earth International's support for the people of Palestine struggling against environmental violations of the Israeli occupation, was welcomed by participants at a three day conference in Bethlehem.
The Third Palestinian Environmental Awareness and Education Conference , entitled "Eco-justice of Palestine," was held between 17 - 19 December 2012. The conference focused on the international and local responsibility to care for and protect the Palestinian environment. The purpose of the conference was to raise awareness in the local and international communities about the critical environmental situation in Palestine due to the affects of the Israeli occupation, and advocate for sustainable change on both an international and a local level.
During the three day conference, information was presented and there were discussions on the status of the environment in Palestine; Israeli violations of the environment and land, unjust water distribution, the impact of the apartheid wall on the environment, and the Israeli Dimona nuclear reactor and its impact. The conference was also presented with international reports like the UN Environment Program's reports on the Palestinian environment and the environmental Nakba
(catastrophe) to come.
Following an observer mission in August 2012, Friends of the Earth International has committed to support the Palestinian people in their struggle against the environmental impacts of the Israeli occupation.
Abeer Al-Butmah of Friends of the Earth Palestine said "The people of Palestine welcome the support of Friends of the Earth International in our struggle against the Isareli occupation. We appreciate FoEI's belief in our struggles against Israeli environmental violations. We hope to continue working together for international solidarity against Israel's crimes. This conference is a means to recognize the shared responsibility of Palestinians and internationals and improve the education, awareness building, and advocacy in order to achieve eco-justice in Palestine.
This can only take place on the ground with the help and support of the international community."
Eurig Scandrett, from FoE Scotland participated in the observer mission and addressed the conference on behalf of FoEI. He said "having heard reports of multiple environmental violations perpetrated by Israel, by the settlements and the military occupation of the West Bank, and by the bombing and contamination of Gaza, it is important for environmentalists not to cooperate with any organisation which accepts or normalises the occupation or colludes with the Israeli occupiers."
The final day of the conference was a field trip to the areas affected by the Israeli violations against the environment. Participants saw the wastewater that is dumped onto Wadi Foukeen Village from Betar Settlement and how it has destroyed the agricultural land. They also went to a town near Hebron city called Ethna where electronic and other solid waste is transferred from Israel and the settlements, then broken up and burnt in this town to extract the copper and steel that is then transferred to Israel again. This is really an environmental catastrophe.
This conference devised an action plan between different working bodies, ministries civil organizations and environmental activists, through dialogue and interaction with one another. The conference also called on environmental groups not to cooperate with any organisation which accepts or normalises the occupation or colludes with the Israeli occupiers.