Two bills intended to help bring the Dead Sea back to life passed their first reading Wednesday in the Knesset, both proposed by Yisrael Beiteinu Knesset Member Moshe Matalon.
One of the measures, the Dead Sea Tender Bill, would create a fund for the reconstruction and development of the Dead Sea region, according to the MK. Funds for the project would be generated by taxes collected from businesses around the Dead Sea area.
The second bill is an amendment to the Economic Arrangements Bill, and would create a fund for the protection of the Dead Sea coast and overall environment.
Among the ways in which the environment is to be protected will be through the harvesting of the rapidly rising level of mineral salts from the floor of the lake, a process to be funded by the area's Dead Sea Works manufacturing firm. The manufacturer will also see a rise in its royalties under the measure.
The water level in the Dead Sea has been dropping at an alarming rate of approximately four feet (1.3 meters) per year, especially towards the northern end of the mineral lake. In the south, ironically, increasing salts have pushed the water level up by eight inches (20 centimeters) a year, due to manufacturing processes and mineral extractions by the Dead Sea Works.
The Dead Sea is the lowest place on Planet Earth and is a popular tourist attraction, not only due to the soporific effect of the minerals in the air, but also because of the healing effects of the environment, which is especially beneficial for those who suffer from arthritic and skin disorders.