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Israel to approve Dead Sea water project with Jordan

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Staff Writer | Friday January 4, 2019 7:24AM ET
Tzachi Hanegbi
Middle East   Minister Tzachi Hanegbi

Israel’s regional cooperation minister said Israel is ready to move ahead with a multibillion dollar project with Jordan to pipe water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, an idea that’s been on the drawing board for years.

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Tzachi Hanegbi said he expects the Israeli Cabinet to approve the Red Sea-Dead Sea project, which will bring water from the Red Sea to a desalination centre in the Jordanian port of Aqaba.

The brine byproduct will be piped 200 kilometres north to the Dead Sea, a salt lake bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west, whose severe shrinkage has created a slew of environmental problems.

Each country will pledge $40 million per year to the project for 25 years, Hanegbi said, which would bring the total to at least $2 billion. Jordan’s Ministry of Water didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The project could help to relieve a dire water shortage in Jordan, and Palestinians will be able to buy the desalinated water at cost, Hanegbi said. It’s also meant to alleviate the evaporation of the Dead Sea, where Jordan and Israel harvest potash and do a brisk tourism business. A hydroelectric plant will provide power to both countries.

The neighbours agreed to work together on the project in 2013, but implementation has been delayed by political tensions including stalled Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking and the 2017 killing of two Jordanians by an Israeli security guard at the embassy in Amman.

Jordan is expected to exhaust its underground freshwater sources in the next 40 years, according to Mercy Corps, a global humanitarian organization.


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