Council Considering More Sister Cities
A small village in Palestine that is struggling to maintain its territory is one of three potential Alameda Sister City selections.
Wadi Foquin in Palestine is located in a lush valley on the West Bank. The village sits in an agriculturally rich area close to the Green Line of the Israel-Palestine border. The valley is known for its fruits, vegetables, honey, olive trees and natural springs. The village is home to 1,300 residents.
Wadi Foquin, like many other villages in the West Bank, is losing sections of land due to settlement construction of Betar Illit and extension of Israel’s separation barrier, according to Friends of Wadi Foquin, an Alameda advocacy group aimed to help offset the damage inflicted by the nearby Israeli settlement.
According to a change.org petition, the settlement of Betar Illit, located east of Wadi Foquin, has been accused of human rights violations against Wadi Foquin. Those violations include land confiscation and damage to water supplies. Since 1948, three-quarters of the village’s land has been expropriated by the Israeli government. Potable water supply in the village is controlled by the Israeli government. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 100 liters of water per capita per day as a minimum, but in Wadi Foquin, consumption is restricted to 30 to 70 liters per day.
Sewage and construction debris from Betar Illit has contaminated crops in the village. Finally, construction of highways for Betar Illit has restricted transportation methods for Wadi Foquin residents.
Potential Alameda Sister Cities are nominated by the Alameda Sister City Association (ASCA). The cities are voted on by the City Council. ASCA nominates international cities to be a part of the program if they have one or more similarities with Alameda from criteria that include, but are not limited to: population size, geography, culture, industries, academic institutions, historic or ancestral connections, peace efforts or other shared goals.
In the case of Wadi Foquin, peace efforts could be that one similarity. In a letter to the Sun, (“Open letter on new sister city,” Dec. 21, 2017). ASCA board member Michael J. Robles-Wong, wrote about the importance Sister Cities have as a “means to avoid another world war by nurturing the establishment of non-political personal and community relationships across international boundaries.” Some might view the acceptance of Wadi Foquin as a stance on the Israel-Palestine debate, but Wong said the decision would be without any geopolitical consideration and turning it down because of political reasons would be “without precedence.”
President Dwight D. Eisenhower started Sister Cities International in 1959 as a global approach to create person-to-person diplomacy through non-political educational, cultural and business exchanges.
The other potential Sister Cities are Varazze, Italy, and Asuchio, El Salvador. The three current Sister Cities are Jiangyin, China, Dumaguete, Philippines, and Yeondong-Gun, South Korea.