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Middle East Peace Programs

Joint Israel-Gaza Fisheries Project Discussed

Jerusalem, Israel - The National Peace Council of Israel is researching the feasibility of a joint venture fishery business between Israel and Palestine at the Gaza/Israel sea border.

Among the project ideas discussed at National Peace Council meetings, the most attractive and tangible one is the fishery. We discussed its relevance to Israel’s reality and the peacemaking process. In the future it could provide economic benefits as well as opportunities for cooperation and commerce for both sides.

Advice will be sought from prospective grant-givers. Research will be undertaken into types of activities to be organized and how to measure success.

Certainly we have some foundation for such a proposal based on the experiences of related organizations in Alaska and other regions and the work of Hon. Jose de Venecia, former Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Philippines, in setting up a fishing academy in the Philippines.

The founder of the Universal Peace Federation, Dr. Sun Myung Moon, founded Ocean Church in the 1970s, using fishing as a way to help people relate with the Creator, gain leadership qualities, learn practical business skills, and provide a valuable source of food. He encourages fishing in the world’s great oceans and rivers, fish processing, and boat building.

At a regional UPF meeting in Cyprus in 2008, an Egyptian Ambassador for Peace made helpful suggestions about the proposal, and he may be able to facilitate a feasibility study from the Gaza side. The project is moving forward at the initiative of Dr. Eliezer Glaubach, former Jerusalem City Councilman, with the cooperation of Ambassadors for Peace Dr. Ghazi Mousa Tayyeb of Jordan and Prof. Rouchdy Saleh of Egypt.

An Israeli Ambassador for Peace has taken a fishing course in Ashdod, on the Mediterranean coast. Two Ambassadors for Peace have been in contact with experts on fisheries in Israel to seek both practical and scholarly information.

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Text of the Proposal


We, Ambassadors for Peace from the Holy Land are committed to build a world of universal peace. We are, after all, one family under God, and we do what God considers important.

Our ultimate goal with the following outline is the establishment of a successful Palestinian– Israeli enterprise, namely, a combined fishery–academy in our shared environment: the common Mediterranean Sea shore of Gaza–Israel.

Background

The endless conflict in the Middle East has turned into a vicious circle lasting for decades. Fishermen, Palestinian and Israeli alike, suffer from the devastating impact of severe restrictions and blockades that prevent them from fishing. Quite often they fish under fire! Hundreds of fishing boats from both sides are often unable to operate, and consequently the families suffer from hunger! This sea shore is actually functioning as no-man’s land, a lawless coast, with ongoing damaging consequences to the aquatic system no doubt impacting far beyond the local surrounding.

It is not the fishermen who are belligerent; on the contrary, they use every opportunity for cooperation. Amid ongoing international intentions to establish peace in the area, this project could be of direct or indirect interest to all concerned parties in the Middle East and on the international level.

Stages of implementation

  1. An international convention summoning all parties concerned with the Mediterranean basin (political and professional)
  2. Establishment of an international fishery academy on the international common sea shore of Gaza–Israel
  3. An international appeal for volunteers, mainly fishermen, for a given period, to assist in the  implementation
  4. An international peace fundraising campaign

Economic initiatives

A Palestinian–Israeli joint venture establishing an international fishery on the common sea shores of Gaza–Israel

Participants: professional and decision-making representatives from the relevant concerned nations: Palestine, Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, etc.

Professional institutions

Ministry of Higher Education and Ministry of Marine Science, Palestine–Gaza
Ministry of Agriculture Marine and Fishery Department, Israel
United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization: Fisheries in the Eastern Mediterranean
The General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean
Institute of Science and Aquatic Fisheries, Turkey
Institute of the Mediterranean Fishery, Egypt
The Marine Science Station, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Institute for Fishery and Aquaculture, Lebanon
Institute of Marine Biology, Crete
National Center for Marine Research, Greece
National Center for Marine Research, Italy
Institute for Fisheries and Marine Research, Cyprus

Subjects to be discussed

Fisheries and aquaculture profiles of the eastern Mediterranean Sea
Aquatic life along the eastern Mediterranean Sea shore
Coastal productivity of the Mediterranean fisheries.
Gaza fisheries conservation
The protection of the marine environment and the coastal region of the Mediterranean: report on the Barcelona convention of 1978
Prevention and elimination of pollution of the Mediterranean Sea
Cooperation in combating pollution of the eastern Mediterranean Sea
Action plan for the protection of the marine environment and the sustainable development of the coastal areas

Strategic cooperative action program and plan for enhancement

An international committee chaired by a person such as Hon. Jose de Venecia, Jr., former Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Philippines who initiated a cooperative fisheries project in Asia, should preside over the implementation of the project.

A provisional initiating committee will coordinate and set the structure, the duration, and location of the proposed convention, headed by Mr. Hod Ben Zvi, director of the UPF branch in the Holy Land.

Next steps

The unprecedented spiritual efforts that have been invested in the Middle East by UPF international and its chapters around the world since 2003 through international pilgrimages, conventions, seminars, and outreach to all communities—Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Druze—have laid a solid foundation for the next step towards establishing and enhancing peace and reconciliation in the area.

Part of the next step in UPF’s work for peace in the region can be a joint fishery that will be shared by both Israelis and Palestinians. A fishery on the Mediterranean Sea at the Gaza–Israel border would be a tangible project for Israeli–Palestinian cooperation

A fishery is an organized fishing effort to catch fish or other aquatic species. Generally, a fishery exists for the purpose of providing human beings with food. It can also have other purposes, such as sport or recreational fishing, obtaining ornamental fish, or producing other fish products such as fish oil. Good examples of such fisheries include the salmon fishery of Alaska, the cod fishery of the Lofoten Islands of Norway, and the tuna fisheries in the Pacific. Naturally, most fisheries are located near the shores.

Today, fisheries are estimated to provide 16 percent of the world population`s protein. Thus, this is an economic issue that is dealt with in the major coastal nations such as China, Japan, USA, Russia, India, and Norway.

I propose to build a fishery on the border line of the seashore between the Gaza Strip and Israel. This will be a combined project, a joint venture, between investors and the Israeli and Palestinian authorities. Such project will no doubt be very attractive, useful, beneficial, and serve the economic interests of all sides, and consequently, the political issues as well.

This fishery will also serve as a profound cornerstone for a peace zone according to UPF Founder Dr. Sun Myung Moon`s vision of establishing peace zones in conflicted areas.

I will be happy to elaborate on issues related to this project such as responsibilities, naval service, financial cooperation, legislation, fishing and the environment, fishing and recreation, the fish inspection international act, shipping act, etc., and lastly, establishing joint committees for implementation of this project.

A derivative project can be an international fishery college for Palestinian, Israeli, and other students. This fishery college will provide advanced studies in aquaculture including ecosystems, oceanography, marine conservation, fish processing, fishing capacity, fish farming, environmental effects of fishing, earth watch, etc.

Towards implementation

Establish an initial committee to deal with core issues of the project and formulate recommendations for promoting and executing the project.

The main issues at this point are:

  • Establishing a joint management model of professionals in the field associated with the project
  • Gathering data
  • Performing research identifying vessels and fishing platforms on both Israeli and Palestinian sides
  • Shaping subsequent activities through approaching relevant authorities in Israel and Palestine
  • Conducting a study about Cyprus, Greece, and other nations that operate fisheries and are experienced in fishing in Mediterranean waters

Fishery college

Technical training the fishery college might provide:

•      training trawler skippers
•      gear technologists
•      training in swordfish long lining
•      training skippers for international certification to operate outside the present restricted fishing zone
•      the deployment of artificial reefs

Other possible projects to foster IsraeliPalestinian cooperation

Following is a selection of relatively fast-track topics of current importance:

1.  Democracy builders
Participants: from the academic and political fields
Purpose: to strengthen democracy in the communities through lessons learned and applied
Content: Israeli–Palestinian seminars on the democratic process of governance and peace-building based on selected case studies of similar international realities

2.  Spiritualpolitical networks
Participants: religious leaders of the major Middle Eastern faiths: Christian, Muslim, Druze, and Jewish.
Purpose: to lay the foundations for ongoing cooperation and communication among the various religions and communities through their religious and political representatives.
Scope: national, with numerous branches throughout leading communities in Palestine and Israel, including the integration of Jewish and Muslim militants into the peacebuilding process.

3. Third-party involvement
Discussions about the necessity and possible benefits of international third-party involvement with various spiritual perspectives to assist in building bridges and mapping the bases for cooperation between nations in conflict.

Participants: elected leaders of nations and leaders of influential international NGOs that have with proven global competence in dealing with economic and spiritual issues

4. Women`s regional council
Debating the role of women in Muslim and Jewish communities and in the Palestinian and Israeli societies in general; establishing a community network for promoting the conditions and atmosphere necessary for peace.

Participants: leading women from Palestinian and Israeli communities from all levels and professions, such as educators, social workers, nurses, businesswomen, technicians, etc.

5. Educators’ regional council
Hold peacebuilding seminars and distribute the outcomes as teaching material in schools, community centres, and private homes.

Scope: the entirety of Israel and Palestine

6. Festivals
Organize annual Palestinian–Druze–Israeli festivals such as:

  • Art, music, and folklore festival
  • Sport festival
  • Poets, authors, and writers festival
  • A combination of the above

 

 

7. Jerusalem

A city that is both united and divided
The sound of Jerusalem: ripped
Conduct discussion groups about all proposals, inviting suggestions for a final settlement

The aim is to foster interaction in Jerusalem between east and west, between Arabic and Jewish populations of various ages and on various topics, including culture, sports, art, social needs, environmental issues, and economic issues with emphasis on tourism and the hotel industry.

Exploring initiatives on the community level through some 40 community centers throughout both sides of the city.

Implementation

  • Nominate an international committee
  • Establish an international fund for each purpose
  • Organize a global fundraising campaign to support each project

This project proposal was first submitted during the 33rd Middle East Peace Initiative trip to Tiberias and Jerusalem, December 4-9, 2007. For further reference, see books published in 1996 and 1998 in Hebrew, and Furrows of Peace in the Middle East, published in 2005. For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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