News Feature | December 11, 2013

Sewage: A Path To Mideast Peace?

By Sara Jerome


Israelis and Palestinians are working together to clean up the sewage mess in the Kidron Valley in what observers describe as a rare peaceful effort between the feuding sides. 

The Christian Science Monitor reported: “A grass-roots team of Israeli and Palestinian engineers, architects, environmental activists, and local officials have developed a comprehensive plan to rehabilitate the valley; from wastewater treatment to environmental education to new green tourism opportunities. They're hoping to piggyback on the momentum of restarted peace talks and finally break the political impasse."

Former deputy mayor of Jerusalem Naomi Tsur said in the Monitor. “This should be the first thing peace talks do – what’s more obvious? If Israelis and Palestinians will not tackle the sewage in the Kidron, then they’re not taking the peace talks seriously."

Currently, the sewage problem in the valley is severe. 

"When 1 in 3 residents of Jerusalem flush their toilets, the sewage flows untreated through the ancient Kidron Valley and cascades down once pristine canyon waterfalls to the Dead Sea, a popular bathing spot," the Monitor reported. 

But some voices are hopeful about a cleanup. 

"Restoring the Kidron Valley, a unique, internationally significant heritage district will increase the number of Christian, Muslim and Jewish pilgrims, eco- and archaeological tourism, and spur agricultural development throughout the Kidron to Jericho and throughout the Jordan River Valley in both Israeli and Palestinian territories," according to an opinion piece in Haaretz Newspaper. 

But stakeholders are realistic: the cleanup will be a challenge.

"Neglected and treated as the city’s dirty backyard and a polluted dump, the Kidron Valley [could] become a green tourism path," the Media Line reported. "It won’t be easy. In Jerusalem, even the simplest problems with win-win solutions almost always contain political undertones that get them bogged down in the wider context of the Israel-Palestinian conflict."

For more on water issues in the region, visit Water Online. 

Image credit: "Panorama of Jerusalem's Eastern Hill and the Kidron Valley," © 2011 Ian W. Scott, used under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license:

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