Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman visited Gush Etzion today, on her first visit to Judea and Samaria in her new role, and toured the area with Gush Etzion Regional Council Chairman and Yesha Council Head Shlomo Ne'eman, along with representatives of the Kfar Etzion Field School.
The minister was introduced to a variety of environmental challenges affecting the region as a result of PA negligence in Areas B and C including: illegal burning causing air pollution, soil and water pollution caused by sewage, the battle against illegal PA quarries, issues involving garbage/waste in the area and more.
The minister also met with local activists and learned up close about the struggle taking place led by the council along with green organizations in Judea and Samaria. Today's visit is just the first stop the minister plans to take throughout Judea/Samaria to learn about the issues which impact its residents along with the entire State of Israel.
During her visit, Minister Silman said: "The consequences of illegal dumping is one example of environmental crimes, which unfortunately is widespread in other areas as well. We are also dealing with illegal landfills, autobody junkyards, quarries, trash burning, and the dumping of construction waste which leads to pollution. The Ministry of Environmental Protection will fight for sovereignty and governance in Judea and Samaria. We will do so by advancing legislation which strengthens environmental supervision and enforcement of the laws, while creating a deterrence against environmental crimes. We are bucking the trend – and with true governance, protecting the environment."
Gush Etzion Regional Council Chairman Shlomo Ne'eman thanked Minister Silman for her visit and expressed his optimism that the residents of Gush Etzion now have a true address within the government to turn to on environmental issues.
Ne'eman said: "The fight for quality of life and the quality of the environment is a fight for the land itself. There are large scale illegal activities taking place here non-stop - from unsupervised burning to water pollution, illegal quarries, and the illegal takeover of open areas. I thank Minister Silman for this important visit and for her desire to create positive change."
Kfar Etzion Field School Assistant Director Amichai Noam added: "Minister Silman's visit, less than a month after assuming her new role, sends an important statement for which we are grateful. We stand by the minister, along with the Gush Etzion Regional Council and all councils throughout Judea and Samaria, in tackling important environmental issues and preserving the environment for future generations."
During the visit it was determined that follow up meetings would take place between the minister's professional staff, and local environmental officials.