Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority (PA) are scheduled to sign an agreement on Monday to build a pipeline from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. The project will be launched during a ceremony at the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington DC.
A senior reporter for Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, Nahum Barnea, reported that: "according to the plan, also known as the Two Seas Canal agreement, nearly 100 million cubic metres of water will be transferred annually from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, which will hopefully slow down the Dead Sea's desiccation."
Starting in the middle of last century, the Dead Sea began to rapidly shrink, falling roughly one cubic metre a year. Its surface area today is about 30 per cent smaller than it was only 20 years ago. Increasing demands for water, especially for agricultural production in Israel, have exacerbated the problem, in addition to the practice of building dykes that create evaporation ponds to exploit the mineral wealth of the Dead Sea.
According to the new agreement, a joint purification plant will be established and Israel, Jordan and the PA will all share the water.
Israel's Minister for Regional Cooperation and Infrastructure, Silvan Shalom, will sign the agreement along with the Jordanian and Palestinian ministers of water. Shalom was quoted as saying that: "this is a historic agreement. It is a dream come true."
According to the agreement, nearly 200 million cubic metres of water will be pumped annually from the Red Sea, with around 80 million cubic metres desalinated in a special distillation plant in Aqaba yet to be established. Israel will receive 30-50 million cubic metres of water for the Eilat area in southern Israel, while Jordan will receive 30 million cubic metres of water for its southern population as well as 50 million cubic metres of grey-water from Lake Tiberias for the north.
According to Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, the PA had requested a foothold in the northern part of the Dead Sea near Ain Fashukha, but Israel refused. Instead, the PA will receive nearly 30 million cubic metres of water from Lake Tiberias, either desalinated water or grey-water, at production cost.
The entirety of the pipeline will be laid in the Jordanian territories to avoid any disputes with environmental organisations in Israel. The pipeline and the purification facilities are expected to be completed within four to five years.