Ministry of the Environment
P.O.B. 6234
Jerusalem, Israel 91061

Compiled and written by Shoshana Gabbay
Jerusalem, 1994

"When the Holy One Blessed Be He
created the first man, He took him
and warned him about all the trees of
the Garden of Eden, saying:
See My works, how beautiful and perfect they are,
and all I createdI created for you.
Beware lest you spoil and destroy My world,
for if you will spoil it, there is no one to
repair it after you."

(Commentary on Ecclesiastes 7:28)


When I assumed the position of Minister of the Environment on January 1st, 1993, I firmly resolved to change public perceptions concerning the environment, to upgrade environmental concerns in the scale of national priorities.

For decades, environmental issues were sidestepped in Israel. The country immersed itself in questions of survival. The hunger for development was all-encompassing. Today, we recognize that a state cannot be created on the foundations of destruction. If sustainable development is to be achieved, natural resources must be carefully managed and protected. Indeed, we have come to realize that environmental concerns are existential by their very nature, touching on survival itself.

In the year and a half which has elapsed since I began serving as Israel’s Minister of the Environment, I have seen the seeds of change begin to take root and sprout. Environmental awareness has blossomed, environmental projects have multiplied, regional cooperation has begun to bud.

Perhaps our greatest opportunity for promoting environmental quality lies within the framework of the peace process. The Middle East, comprised of diverse geographical and climatic zones, constitutes a single environmental system which is particularly vulnerable to all forms of transboundary pollution. The people populating this fragile region are diverse as well, but over the past two years, since the initiation of the multilateral peace talks on the environment, they have been ready to transcend their differences in order to work together for a better environment. Representatives of Middle East nations have come together again and again to identify shared problems, formulate common solutions.

I believe that the environment holds the widest potential to serve as a meeting-ground among nations as they forge new paths toward sustainable development. In an interdependent world, phenomena such as acid rain, ozone depletion, desertification or marine pollution do not respect national borders. Regional and international problems must be addressed today, if destruction is to be avoided tomorrow.

Today, as we embark on the road toward peace, it is my hope and my conviction that our collective efforts will usher in a new era of peaceful coexistence and environmental well-being for all the people in this region.

Yossi Sarid
Minister of the Environment