Jordan, Israel Sign Deal to Build Red Sea-Dead Sea Pipeline

Al-Akhbar is currently going through a transitional phase whereby the English website is available for Archival purposes only. All new content will be published in Arabic on the main website (www.al-akhbar.com).

Al-Akhbar Management

Published Friday, February 27, 2015

Jordan and Israel signed a deal on Thursday to build a pipeline to link the Red Sea with the shrinking Dead Sea and combat regional water shortages.

The official Petra news agency said that the agreement with the Zionist state signed in the Jordanian capital, Amman, would set in motion the implementation of the first phase of a long-awaited project.

It follows a letter of intent signed in Washington in December 2013 by representatives from Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority (PA) that capped more than a decade of negotiations.

The agreement, signed in the presence of representatives from the United States and the World Bank, stipulates the construction of a canal to channel water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea.

Jordanian Water Minister Hazem Nasser said that 300 million cubic meters of water would be pumped annually from the Red Sea during the first phase of the project.

In all four pipelines would be built, with the ambition of eventually pumping two billion cubic meters of water when the project is completed.

The Dead Sea, the lowest and saltiest body of water in the world, is on course to dry out by 2050.

The degradation of the Dead Sea started in the 1960s when Israel, Jordan and Syria began to divert water from the Jordan River, the Dead Sea's main supplier.

As part of the project, some of the water pumped from the Red Sea would enter the Dead Sea while the rest would be desalinated and shared with Israel and the PA.

The Palestinians are expected to obtain 30 million cubic meters of potable water annually.

Nasser said Jordan will start drawing up documents in the next few weeks calling for international tenders.

He claimed the deal, signed for Israel by Energy and Water Resources Minister Silvan Shalom, safeguards Jordan's national interests.

Shalom, who is also minister of regional cooperation, hailed the agreement as a landmark deal between Israel and Jordan, which signed a peace treaty in 1994.

Israel has been in conflict with Jordan’s fellow Arab state, Palestine, since 1917, when the British government, in the now-infamous Balfour Declaration, called for "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."

In 1948, with the end of the mandate, a new state — Israel — was declared inside historical Palestine.

As a result, some 700,000 Palestinians fled their homes, or were forcibly expelled, while hundreds of Palestinian villages and cities were razed to the ground by invading Zionist forces.

The Palestinian diaspora has since become one of the largest in the world. Palestinian refugees are currently spread across the region and in other countries, while many have settled in refugee camps in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israel then occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state — a move never recognized by the international community.

According to the PLO, between 1989 and 2014, the number of Israeli settlers on Palestinian land soared from 189,900 to nearly 600,000. These settlements, meanwhile, are located between and around Palestinians towns and villages, making a contiguous state next to impossible. Israeli confiscation of Palestinian land in border regions has continued unabated.

Meanwhile, Israeli Occupation Forces continue to detain and kill Palestinians, including children, regularly amid Arab and international silence.

Since September 2000, following the Second Intifada, at least 9,100 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis, including 2,053 Palestinian children, the equivalent of one Palestinian child being killed every three days for the past 14 years.

Around 6,500 Palestinians, including hundreds without charge, are currently being held in Israeli prisons, more than 2,000 of whom were arrested by Israeli forces over in the summer of 2014 amid heavy tensions in the West Bank and Gaza, where Israel killed 2,310 Palestinians in a 51-day aggression.

Meanwhile, Shalom said the deal will help rehabilitate the Dead Sea and provide solutions to Jordan's chronic water problems, a statement said.

Two years ago, Jordan's water ministry said that the tiny kingdom, where 92 percent of the land is desert, would need 1.6 billion cubic meters of water a year to meet its requirements by 2015.

Water is an essential and rare resource for Jordan which has a population of around seven million and growing, as the country takes in refugees from the Syria war.

However, several environmental groups have warned that the project could undermine the fragile ecosystem of the Dead Sea, which they fear could be contaminated by water from the Red Sea.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

Comments

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><img><h1><h2><h3><h4><h5><h6><blockquote><span><aside>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

^ Back to Top