Now in its third three-year phase, NEF’s USAID-funded Olive Oil Without Borders (OOWB) project received sign off to launch OOWB III this fall. OOWB is continuing to build relationships of trust, mutual understanding, and collaboration between Israelis and Palestinians through economic cooperation.
Why the olive sector? Olive farming is a cornerstone of the local rural economy in the West Bank and Israel where more than 100,000 families depend on the olive oil industry. The land belonging to farmers extends back generations upon generations and therefore has meaning beyond economic value. In a region where conflict and borders tend to shape every day life, NEF’s OOWB program aims to bring the mutual love that Palestinian and Israeli farmers have for their land to the forefront in order to foster shared economic opportunities. These efforts have resulted in increased production and revenue in the region’s olive sector and a more positive perception of “the other side” reported by those who have participated.
“At an exhibition in Italy there was a flag of the Palestinians and a flag of the Israelis sitting in the same place, Palestinian oil and Israeli oil. For me it was something. ‘Wow,’ I thought to myself. I believe that we—Palestinians and Israelis—will sell something together in one bottle. I believe there is a market of people who believe that the Palestinian and Israelis can sit together and sell something as one.”
– Simha Helbrin
Israeli olive farmer and champion of OOWB
Phase III of OOWB will focus on 37 communities in Israel, the West Bank, and now will also extend to Jordan in areas where the NEF team has well-established relationships. NEF will work directly with at least 1,000 olive producers, mill operators, and olive oil distributors in these areas, and with the Olive Oil Councils, business, and policy leaders to promote cross-border shared solutions to trade and export organic and premium olive oil in the West Bank, Israel, and Jordan.
Click here to watch and share the video, “Olive Oil Without Borders: Cross Border Partnerships“
To read more about NEF’s cross-border work, click here.