Last month Green Prophet wrote about the controversy over the so-called “Peace Canal” or “Peace Valley” lauded by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in his recent trip to Israel. A huge man-made canal carrying water north from the Red Sea was envisaged as the centrepiece of the joint Israeli-Jordanian initiative, backed by claims of breathing life into the ailing Dead Sea, developing tourism projects on both sides of the Israel-Jordan border, as well as plenty of well-worn rhetoric about “making the desert bloom”.
Environmental groups who vigorously opposed the plans, such as Friends of the Earth Middle East, may be breathing a sign of relief this week following reports that the canal has been put on hold – albeit for the wrong reasons. Sources close to Israeli President Shimon Peres, a key supporter of the canal, say that King Abdullah of Jordan has caved in to pressure from other Arab leaders as well the large Palestinian population in his Kingdom concerned that Jordan is becoming too friendly with Israel (according to a report in the London-based Jewish Chronicle).
The Jordanian pull-out marks a setback for cooperation in the Middle East, whether environmentally sustainable or not, and came well before the ecological impacts of such a grandiose scheme were fully assessed. Hopefully protests against ‘normalisation’ with Israel won’t put a damper on more commendable environment solutions, such as the River Jordan “Peace Park” proposed for Israeli and Jordanian communities to the north of the Dead Sea.
Photo credit: Gaspa.