At a conference in the northern village of Yafiah on Feb. 2, 2016, Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay and Director General Yisrael Dancziger presented a new program for waste treatment in Israel’s Arab sectors. They were joined by Knesset (Parliament) Member Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List (of Arab parties) in the Knesset, as well as by Arab, Druze, and Bedouin municipal leaders.
The waste component of the Environmental Justice program will incrementally increase funding for waste treatment in different local authorities, based on each area’s progress and results. The plan includes:
- improving waste collection and treatment systems,
- funding for new communal waste bins,
- improving/purchasing regional and communal waste infrastructure,
- upgrading/establishing waste treatment plants,
- expanding the removal of waste hazards,
- increased supervision and enforcement of waste-related laws by the MoEP’s Green Police,
- operational support for local authorities and a focus on solutions to infrastructural problems.
The program is ultimately aimed at creating a significant change in treatment of all waste streams and reducing the environmental impact of improper waste management in the Arab sector. This will not only mean better municipal services for citizens, but also a better quality of life.
Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay: "Today we are providing momentum and money to close gaps with the Arab sector. This is a clear example of the link between society and environment."
Director General Yisrael Dancziger: "We are beginning a comprehensive plan to improve health and quality of life in the Arab sector. This is an unprecedented investment that will improve public space and the environment in 73 communities across the country. We are continuing to take action and achieve results, rather than talking. And we will continue to reduce social disparities in order to take care of the quality of life of all residents of Israel."
MK Ayman Odeh: "There is a misconception that environmental problems are ‘first world problems,’ when in fact, the vulnerable populations are actually the first to be adversely affected by environmental hazards. This Environmental Justice initiative is a first and necessary step to deal with environmental woes in the Arab communities. These days all of us, especially Haifa residents, are concerned and preoccupied with environmental issues and pollution. This is just another example of the importance of the issue. After all, at issue is our health and our children’s health. Therefore, I praise cooperation with the MoEP in order to promote this program. We hope to see its actual implementation in all Arab towns and villages in the near future."
The MoEP’s Environmental Justice program began two years ago, under then-Minister Amir Peretz. Its expansion will allow the MoEP to lead the change through a structured process, which will enable gradual implementation and more meaningful funding.