Little left of once mighty River Jordan

A Franciscan blesses a Christian pilgrim at the Qasr el-Yahud baptismal site on the Jordan River near the West Bank city of Jericho in 2018 (CNS/Debbie Hill)

When John the Baptist baptised Jesus in the Jordan River, the river was clean, fast-flowing and over 90 metres wide. Today, the river would not be recognisable to Jesus or John the Baptist. Source: The Christian Post.

By Gidon Bromberg, Yana Abu Taleb, Nada Majdalani, The Christian Post

Throughout the centuries, the diaries of Christian pilgrims expressed concern of drowning in the Jordan, should they be carried away by its strong waters.

Today a hamster wheel would hardly turn in what is left of this river that now barely connects the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. The river is barely four metres wide or less, and desperately polluted.

Over the last 50 years, much due to the Arab/Israeli conflict, 95 per cent of the freshwater that used to flow down the river has been diverted by Israel, Syria and Jordan. The river border is mined and fenced, and rather than freshwater flowing, a combination of Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian raw or poorly treated sewage, fishpond waste, agricultural return flow and diverted saline springs, are what feed what is left of the once Mighty River Jordan.

Since 2005, EcoPeace Middle East, together with local residents and mayors, have led the call to rehabilitate the river, with success. Religious leaders representing Judaism, Christianity and Islam joined the effort, signing on to a new Jordan River Covenant that calls for the river’s rehabilitation.

Despite continuing regional conflict, inspiring progress is being achieved. With European Union support, the first ever master plan for the river and the valley was prepared, uniquely bringing together Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian ministerial level participants. Under their peace treaty arrangements, Israel and Jordan even created a river rehabilitation working group.

However, all of this regional cooperation related to the Jordan River has come to a complete and sudden halt following the announcement of the "Deal of the Century" by United States President Donald Trump. With broad support from the government of Israel, this deal proposes that Israel unilaterally annex the Jordan Valley areas of the West Bank to become part of Israel, despite the vocal objections made by the Jordanian King and the Palestinian President.


The place of Jesus’ baptism could disappear (The Christian Post)

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