Israel’s ambitious project to construct a canal linking the Red Sea to the shrinking Dead Sea will also see the transfer of 30 million cubic meters of water to the Palestinian Authority, under an agreement signed Wednesday at a global water conference in Stockholm.
The agreement, signed at the annual The World Water Week, was backed by Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states, but sparked an angry outburst by the Palestinian representative against Israel’s water policies.
Likud MK Ayoub Kara, who represented Israel at the annual conference, said the transfer would begin within the next month.
“We brought up the creative idea for the transfer of 30 million cubic meters of water to the Palestinians next month within the framework of the canal project, and the initiative was praised by members of the council,” he told Israel Radio on Thursday.
“This praise for the initiative pressured the Palestinian representative, who took to the stage and was shouting like you’ve never seen, prompting security to remove him from the stage,” Kara added.
The ambitious Red Sea-Dead Sea canal project has been in the works for more than a decade and aims to provide much-needed water to parts of Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories.
A desalination plant in the Jordanian city of Aqaba, across the gulf from the Israeli resort town of Eilat, will produce the drinking water. Israel will receive around 30-50 million cubic meters of potable water, which will go to Eilat and communities in the arid Arava region, while Jordan will use 30 million cubic meters for its own southern areas.
One hundred million cubic meters of the highly saline byproduct of the process will be piped north to the Dead Sea — the lowest point on earth at some 427 meters (1,400 feet) below sea level — to replenish the lake, whose level has dipped precariously in recent decades. Experts have warned that the Dead Sea, the lowest and saltiest body of water in the world, is on course to dry out by 2050. Environmentalists have warned, however, that pumping the water into the Dead Sea will endanger the ecology of the region.
The project will be funded and supported by the World Bank, the US and several European countries. Last month, Jordan said 17 international firms have launched tenders for the construction of the canal.
AFP contributed to this report.