PA Opposes Med-Dead Canal

The Palestinian Authority has asked the World Bank to stop funding a study for a Red Sea-Dead Sea canal. It alleges Israel is staging a land grab.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu,

Dead Sea: PA says canal is a "land grab"
Dead Sea: PA says canal is a "land grab"
Israel news photo

The Palestinian Authority has asked the World Bank to cancel funding studies for Red-Sea-Dead Sea canal that would provide abundant water supplies for Israel, Jordan and Arabs in Judea and Samaria, including the Jordan Valley.

It charged that Israel plans to take over land exposed by the receding Dead Sea and effectively cut off the possibility of a contiguous PA state comprising Samaria and the Jordan Valley. The PA said that 35,000 acres of land, two percent of all of Judea and Samaria is involved.

PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said the proposed annexation of land is intended “to kill the chance of creating a viable Palestinian state with territorial contiguity.” He said the PA will ask the United Nations Security Council and the World Court to intervene if the World Bank does not accede to its demand to halt funding for the project.

The World Bank has agreed to grant money for a pilot project to bring 200 million cubic meters of water along a 112-mile (180 kilometer) canal. Half of the water would help replenish the Dead Sea, the lowest point in the world, and half would be stored in a reservoir for processing through a desalination plant that would be the largest in the world.

The final cost of the entire canal and water plant is estimated at $7 billion and would provide one million jobs for Arabs as well as Jews, according to Yitzchak Tshuva, the controlling shareholder of the Delek Energy Group. “I have no doubt that in the not too distant future, Israel will not have a water problem, because it will be possible to desalinate water from the Mediterranean Sea at a cheaper cost than to take water out of Lake Kinneret,” he said.

Opposition to the project has come from environmentalists, including those who are from the Arab-Israeli Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) organization, which has offices in Bethlehem, Jordan and Tel Aviv.

“Beginning the pilot project in the midst of a feasibility study is completely unacceptable,'' according to FoEME official Mira Edelstein. Some scientists have maintained that mixing sea water with the water in the Dead Sea might cause micro-biological damage that would result in damage to industry and tourism.