Dear MK Gantz,
We are writing to you out of deep concern regarding the proposed annexation of parts of the West Bank. As environmental experts and veterans of cross-border environmental cooperation, we believe annexation of parts of the West Bank would have a grave impact on our ability to continue to safeguard Israel’s natural resources and our ability to strengthen Israel’s resilience in the face of climate change.
The Arava Institute’s alumni community includes more than 1,400 Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian, and international leaders who participated in our environmental study program on Kibbutz Ketura in the southern Arava. We promote sustainable solutions for food production, wastewater treatment, drinking water, and renewable energy in rural communities in the Negev, West Bank, Gaza, and southern Jordan. Our scientists have formed cross-border partnerships with their Jordanian and Palestinian colleagues, sharing data, collaborating on scientific studies, and building bridges of trust. We believe that annexation will imperil this critical work on both sides of the border, work that is undertaken by scientists, environmentalists, academics, and many others to promote peaceful cooperation in the face of conflict and impending environmental stress.
In recent years, with the launch of the Track II Environmental Forum, whose mission is to advance cross-border environmental agreements between Israel, the PA and Jordan, we have enlisted international diplomatic partners from the EU and the US, as well as international institutions such as Oxford University, in order to create a framework for cross-border environmental cooperation and peace-building. Through intifadas, wars, and rocket exchanges with Gaza, the Arava Institute has kept lit the flame of hope.
We at the Arava Institute fear that the new government’s current path towards annexation risks extinguishing the ability of the Arava Institute, and other peace-building organizations, to continue the critical work we carry out with our Palestinian and Jordanian partners. This work is not part of the right/left political spectrum, and it has been supported by Israeli governments over time; our constituency is the planet earth and the human beings who populate it.
We understand that Prime Minister Netanyahu has the votes to pass an annexation bill, even without support from Blue and White. This does not, however, absolve you from your responsibility for the consequences of such a vote. You led your party into this coalition; we urge you to do whatever you can to stop or slow down the annexation of parts of the West Bank, for the sake of peace through a Two-State Solution, and for the sake of the future of the State of Israel.