Israel has taken the first step in joining the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an alliance of countries promoting democracy and economic well-being.
Recently, the Paris-based OECD approved Israel’s membership in its Development Center, whose mandate is to forge links between developed and developing nations.
Membership in the centre is considered a step toward membership in the OECD.
If Israel is accepted as a full member of the OECD, it will be only the second country in the Middle East after Turkey to be one.
By all accounts, Israel’s membership in the Development Center was in part made possible by the work of the Jewish National Fund in the Third World.
Founded in 1901, the JNF, a non-governmental organization, has played a significant role in developing land and reclaiming water in Israel.
The JNF has been in the forefront of managing open spaces and forests, halting desertification, reclaiming rivers and streams and conserving soil and water.
In recent years, the JNF has been involved in a wide range of international projects in East Timor, Indonesia, Mexico, Niger, Jordan and Kenya, among other nations, said Michal Marmary, a JNF foreign media adviser in Israel.
In an interview, Marmary said that JNF experts have been active in East Timor in establishing tree nurseries for the purpose of reclaiming forests that were damaged during East Timor’s secession from Indonesia.
The JNF has also worked with the International Arid Land Consortium on projects designed to prevent desertification in such countries as Mexico, Chile, Paraguay, Niger, Burkina Faso, Turkey, Jordan and El Salvador.
As well, the JNF made a stellar contribution by finding a tiny but powerful predator to control gall wasps, which have ravaged eucalyptus groves in Israel the Mediterranean basin, Africa and the Far East, Marmary said.
“These wasps have expanded their range, causing damage to eucalyptus trees,” she added.
Eucalypus groves in Israel and Africa are important for a number of reasons. she explained.
They provide shade in recreational areas, are a source of timber for domestic consumption and are a major source of nectar and pollen for honeybees.
In July, JNF experts plan to visit Rwanda to provide instruction and training in agro forestry.
At around the same time, Israeli scientists will go to Kenya to ascertain why certain trees have not taken root.
Marmary suggested that all these efforts have helped Israel become a member of the OECD’s Development Center.