Israel, Jordan to announce Red-Dead Sea canal

The aim is to save the Dead Sea from drying up, and strengthen bilateral relations.

Minister for Regional Cooperation Roni Milo and Jordan’s Minister for Development Bassem Awadallah will announced the Red-Dead Sea project at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg at the end of August.

The project will cost $2-5 billion, including a 350-km pipeline from Eilat to the Dead Sea, that will carry 1.5 billion cubic meters of water (four times the amount carried by the National Water Carrier), and a desalination facility on the Jordanian side.

Milo said this was the first joint environmental project undertaken by the two countries. The World Bank, Japan, and European countries have expressed interest in participating in the project. Jordan’s King Abdallah II and former US President Bill Clinton are supporters. Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Shimon Peres said he would convene an international donors conference for the project.

Israel and Jordan have defined the aims of the project as saving the Dead Sea, which has fallen 30 meters in recent years at a rate of 1.2 meters a year, caused by over-pumping of the Jordan and Yarmukh Rivers by Syria, Jordan and Israel, and by potash works on its shores. Jordan also wants to exploit the pipeline for irrigation to the area of Karak and the Dead Sea.

It is hoped that the the added water in the Dead Sea will help overcome the problem of sinkholes in the area, which are a major safety hazard, and thereby remove the threat of collapse from the hotels in the area.

Opponents of the project include Friends of the Earth Middle East , which claims the project is being announced without any thorough study of its impact.

Published by Globes [online] - www.globes.co.il - on August 13, 2002

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