Tripartite deal to connect Red Sea with Dea Sea

Updated: 2013-12-09 18:50

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JERUSALEM - Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian National Authority will sign on Monday a "landmark" agreement to connect the Red Sea with the shrinking Dead Sea.

"This is a historical agreement," Israel's Minister of Infrastructure and Regional Cooperation Silvan Shalom told Israel Radio. He said "It took very long time but eventually we will have a tripartite agreement. It's a dream that comes true."

The agreement will be signed in the World Bank headquarters in Washington D.C., with Jordanian Water and Irrigation Minister Hazem Nasser and Palestinian Minister and Head of the Palestinian Water Authority Shaddad Attili.

Shalom said the project has economical and strategic aspects. It will supply cheap desalinated water for the region, which suffers a chronic lack of water, and it is signed at a time when the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian falters.

Israel's Yediot Aharonot newspaper reported that some 100 million cubic meters would be pumped from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Dead Sea.

"Following the signing," Shalom told Israel Radio, "an international tender will be issued for the entire project, including the construction of the desalination plant in Aqaba and laying the pipes."

The Dead Sea lies between Israel and Jordan, and in the last decades it has considerably shrunken because of excessive industrial use, mainly by mineral-production factories.

The pipeline project idea was first raised in the 1970s as a mean of bringing cheap waters to the Jordan Valley. It was mentioned also in the 1994's Israel-Jordan peace accord. However, Israel's Environment Ministry and the green organization, Friends of the Earth-Middle East, objected the plan, saying too much water from the Red Sea will harm the Dead Sea's delicate ecosystem.