Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Israel and Jordan signed agreement on Red – Dead Sea Canal project

By Mona Martin - March 14, 2015
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Water]

Israel and Jordan signed an agreement two weeks ago declaring joint administration on a project connecting the Red Sea and the Dead Sea via a canal. The project will be financed by the World Bank. Advertized as a preservation measure for the Dead Sea and alleviation of the water scarcity in the region, it may also deepen the already substantial dependence Palestinians have on Israel for access to water resources.

The purpose of the project is to stop the fatal recession of the Dead Sea, while gaining potable water for Jordan, Israel and the West Bank. Along with a canal connecting the Red and the Dead Sea, a desalination facility is planned to convert seawater into drinking water.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding the Read Sea Dead Sea Canal project was signed by Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority (PA) in December 2013. According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, after the newest agreement, the PA will have the chance to sign a separate agreement with Israel in the case it wants access to the water provided through the Read - Dead Sea Canal project.

80 of the planned 200 million cubic metres to be pumped up from the Red Sea by Jordan will be converted into drinking water. 30 million cubic metres of it will be bought by Jordan, 30-50 million cubic metres by Israel. The PA will then be able to buy 30 million cubic metres of water from Israel by signing a separate agreement.

Palestinians will be left once more to buy water from Israeli sources, deepening economic dependence on Israel even more. 

According to leading Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem, 80 percent of water supplies found in the joint Israeli-Palestinian Water Aquifer – one of the most significant sources of water for both Israelis and Palestinians – go to Israel, while the remaining 20 per cent are made available for Palestinians. Developmental water projects for the occupied Palestinian territories were scheduled and defined in the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993, but due to technical difficulties, Israeli imposed restrictions and military demolitions of NGO funded infrastructure, the projects silted up. The PA currently purchases “about one third of available water in the West Bank” from Israel's national water company, Mekorot, according to B'Tselem.

A recent statement put out by the Palestinian NGO Ewash regarding the Read-Dead Sea Canal, called on both Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) “to take an unequivocal public stance of rejection to the project. It has become clear beyond doubt that the project is an unacceptable attempt to force the Palestinian population to consent to their own dispossession and to compromise on their own rights.”

Ehab Barghouti of the Palestinian Water Authority told the Palestine Monitor, “the position of the Palestinian Water Authority is clear: We are on board with the project. We agree in principle to save the Dead Sea, but also because Palestinians will benefit [from the drinking water made available through the project]. We agreed on the conditions when we signed the MOU [Memorandum of Understanding signed by PA, Jordan and Israel in December 2013]. What happened two weeks ago was the signature of Israel and Jordan, which is part of the MOU. We will now proceed to negotiate with Israel about the 20-30 million cubic metres [of water] we should get out of the deal.” 

When asked whether or not he is afraid of Israel backing out of a deal with the PA, Barghouti was resolute: “Nothing will happen without the Palestinian side on board.” If the Palestinians don’t agree to every step of the project, argued Barghouti, international monetary aid very likely may be cut. This is the key, he said. As long as the international community watches over the project implementation, the Red-Dead Sea Canal project will be a success. 

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