The Hiriya former waste dump is certainly an unlikely place for a Tu Bishvat (Israeli Arbor Day) planting ceremony, a holiday that symbolizes the rebirth of nature. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will attend a festive planting event on the mountain of waste, as part of a widespread initiative towards environmental renewal.

During the visit, Environmental Protection Ministry officials will present the prime minister with an outline of plans to turn the site into a recycling park. Netanyahu's visit comes just one day after the packaging recycling law was passed, aimed at reducing packaging waste and encouraging repeated use of packaging materials.

Tu Bishvat festivities will span over three days this year, metamorphosing
from a tree-planting holiday into an occasion with wider environmental and
social significance.

While many in the Arab community had seen Tu Bishvat in the past as a holiday symbolizing forest expansions intended to strengthen the Jewish hold on the land, groups and organizations are now using it to promote joint Jewish and Arab environmental activity.

Jewish and Arab environmental activists intend to hold a "coexistence Tu
Bishvat" ceremony on Saturday in the Arab village of Um al Kutuf in Wadi Ara.

The activists will plant olive trees on a site owned by a family in the village and farmed by the villagers for the past 100 years. The Housing Ministry plans to confiscate the land for the planned ultra-Orthodox town of Harish.

Environmentalists object to building the town, fearing the construction will damage the landscape and forests in the region.

Together with the Jewish National Fund, the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem municipalities will hold events on Sderot Rothschild and in community parks respectively.

The JNF will also hold more conventional Tu Bishvat planting events in large forests. The JNF has clarified that that all Tu Bishvat tree planting is included in the JNF annual planting quota and will not exceed it.

This week JNF workers saved trees that were planted in an expanse near Kiryat Tivon that is slated to be paved and turned into a road. The carob and oak trees were uprooted and transferred with the help of the National Roads Association.