Thursday, January 7, 2010
The Malka Brander Hall of Justice ("Kes HaMishpat"), Trubovich Building (Faculty of Law), 9:30-17:00
The international conference "Peace parks on Israel's borders: The Syrian case study from theory to reality", which took place on January 7th , 2010, was organized cooperatively by the Porter School of Environmental Studies, the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research, the S.
Daniel Abraham Center for International and Regional Studies, and the University Institute for Diplomacy and Regional Cooperation of Tel Aviv University.
The keynote speaker was Professor Saleem Ali of the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the
Vermont. Prof. Ali opened the conference with an in-depth academic exploration of the definition of peace parks, which included a number of international examples of peace parks. He stressed that even in the face of serious and long lasting conflict between warring nations peace parks have been successfully established. More importantly, beyond the initial cooperation in their establishment, the peace parks continue today to play a critical role in maintaining open communication between nations.
The speakers in the first session delivered several examples of planned peace parks in the region. Shahar Sadeh gave an overview of many attempted transboundary cooperative efforts on
Israel's borders over the past several decades. Prof. Dan Rabinowitz (TAU) drew on one particular example in
Israel's history - that of the
South Sinai and the demilitarized zones that were established there in the 1950's. Gidon Bromberg, co-Director of Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME), presented designs for the 'Jordan River Peace Park', a peace park the junction of the Jordan and Yarmouk Rivers, which is currently in advanced stages of planning.
During the second session, the lecturers drew a picture of the Golan Heights for conference attendees: Prof. Gideon Biger (TAU) explored the positioning of the border with
Syria, drawing on official maps from throughout the 20 th century. Prof. Yigal Kipnis, of the Truman Institute at
University, presented the demography of the Golan Heights and Dr. Tamar Ron focused on the ecology and natural setting of the
Golan Heights as a perfect backdrop for a proposed peace park.In the last session, Dr. Alon Liel, lecturer at TAU and former Director General of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, expressed his conviction that Israelis will soon be able to visit southern Lebanon without a visa; his inside experience with the Syrian-Israeli negotiations has led him to believe that a peace park in the Golan Heights is not a dream but a distinct possibility. Yehuda Harel, Head of the Golan Heights Settlement Committee, focused his lecture on presenting a plan for an "
Park" in the
Golan Heights, which would preserve and protect its natural environment in cooperation with residents and environmental groups. His vision precludes cooperative agreements between
Syria. Yehuda Greenfield-Gilat took the peace park idea a step further and suggested that both nations would benefit from the installation of a shared renewable energy park in the
Golan Heights. Prof. Eyal Zisser, Director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at TAU and a renowned expert on Syria, remarked that while the idea for a peace park is visionary, he remains doubtful that Israel has a real peace partner in Syria. Valerie Brachya, of the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, concluded the conference with an overall vision for cooperative environmental work between Israel and other Middle Eastern countries based on her positive experiences during her tenure at the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
Guest Lecturer: Prof. Saleem Ali, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont, USA
Realizing the Peace Parks Theory: International case studies
Chair: Prof. Pinhas Alpert, Head, The Porter School of Environmental Studies, TAU
Session One: Peace Parks on Israeli Borders: Proposals from the past and present
Chair: Prof. Itzhak Schnell, Department of Geography, Faculty of Humanities, TAU
Session Two: The Golan Heights: History, geography and ecology
Chair: Prof. Ra'anan Rein, Head, The S. Daniel Abraham Center for International and Regional Studies, TAU
Session Three: The Golan Heights Park: Environmental peacemaking in action
Chair: Prof. Ephraim Lavie, The Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research, TAU
"Israeli-Syrian peace - Track II negotiations and the proposed peace park"
Dr. Alon Liel
, Israeli-Syria Peace Society, former Director General, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
"Israel-Syria negotiations – Lessons from the past"
Prof. Eyal Zisser
, Head of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, TAU
"A renewable energy peace park in the Golan as a framework to an Israeli-Syrian agreement"
, SAYA Architecture & Consultancy
"The Golan Heights as 'The Israel Park' "
, Head of the Golan Heights Settlements Committee
Respondent: Valerie Brachya, Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies