Jordanian and Israeli officials signed a multi-million dollar deal on Thursday to rescue the Dead Sea from oblivion. The ceremony took place on the Jordanian shore of the Dead Sea, with Israel’s National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom signing on behalf of the Jewish State. His Jordanian counterpart, Water and Irrigation Minister Hazim el-Naser, signed on behalf of the Hashemite Kingdom.
The historic project began with a memorandum of understanding signed in Washington by Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian Authority leaders on Dec. 9, 2013.
The $800 million agreement authorizes the construction of a 65 to 80 million cubic meter capacity desalination plant in Aqaba, Jordan. The plant is to produce potable water that will benefit both nations.
In return for its purchase of some 45 m.cu.m. of potable water annually from Jordan, Israel will add 50 m.cu.m. To its current annual sale of water to Jordan from Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) in the north.
A 200-kilometer pipeline will supply Red Sea saltwater to replenish the shrinking waters of the Dead Sea, also benefiting both Israel and Jordan, whose borders share the shorelines of the lake on each side.
The memorandum of understanding worked out in 2013 also called for Israel to faciliate the direct sale of an additional 20 m.cu.m. of water from the Mekorot national water company to the Palestinian Authority.
Since the PA violated the terms of the Oslo Accords and unilaterally applied to the United Nations for membership as an independent Arab country – albeit within the current borders of Israel – many things have changed. The move circumvented any need to negotiate the issues of boundaries, security and economic or infrastructure issues with Israel and resulted in the two sides generally putting aside any further talk of joint projects.
“We are going to provide water from the Israeli system to the Palestinians at points where they need water, and we are going to start discussing with them as soon as possible,” Maya Eldar, an adviser to Minister Shalom told The Jerusalem Post.