The fact that Israel is so small and that Jewish and Arab communities, while mostly homogeneous, are adjacent to each other, makes environmental issues both a point of contention and an area for potential collaboration.
For example, serious environmental challenges such as waste disposal and sewage treatment that arise as a result of poor infrastructure and economic status in Arab localities impact both Arab and Jewish health and well-being. Often, this situation triggers complaints by Jewish communities about mishandling of polluting waste on the one hand and by Arab communities about the lack of adequate resources, governmental support and regional collaboration required to treat such hazards appropriately. Recently, the Ministry for the Environment created a special budget of around NIS 100 million budget for waste disposal in Arab localities as a result of such tensions.
In recent years, a number of Jewish and Arab localities and civil society organizations have identified environmental issues as an area around which to build mutual interest and cooperation. Today, there are projects in existence that are a result of Jewish and Arab localities working together to address shared environmental challenges, such as preserving water sources, treating solid waste and sewage, and regional projects such as cycling or jogging trails that benefit all communities.
The environment is also seen as an issue that can bring groups together through education. Since the environment is something that affects everyone, civil society organizations combine environmental education with encounters and shared learning between Jewish and Arab students, professionals and leaders. Within Arab society, there are also attempts to enhance education on environmental issues within the formal and non-formal education systems.
Regional Inclusive Plannings (RIP)
Scottish Olive Grove: Fair Trade Olive Grove