Israel and Jordan sign deal to save the Dead Sea

People floating in the Dead Sea

Israel and Jordan have signed a historic deal to press ahead with a plan to save the Dead Sea.

The ‘Red-Dead’ project will build a plant near the Jordanian tourist resort of Aqaba that will desalinate water to be shared by Israelis and Palestinians. The brine left over from the desalination process will be channeled from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea by a 112 mile (180 km) pipeline.

The agreement was signed In Jordan by  the Israeli National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Minister Silvan Shalom and Jordan’s, Water and Irrigation Minister Hazim el-Naser.

Nasser said that if the agreement is implemented correctly it would secure 30 million cubic metres (mcm) of freshwater for Palestine to cover its water deficit.

The plan is also crucial to providing a source of fresh water to Jordan, which faces a severe shortage of water, and to rescuing the shrinking Dead Sea. In return for its share of the desalinated water, Israel will double its sales of fresh water to Jordan from the Sea of Galilee.

Shalom said the project would provide water for farmers in southern Israel and drinking water for the north of the country.

“This is the most important and significant agreement since the peace treaty was signed with Jordan,” Shalom said, referring to a peace agreement between Israel and Jordan in 1994.

Eventually the Red-Dead project envisages transferring up to 2 billion cubic metres of water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea annually.

The agreement is the result of a memorandum of understanding signed by Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian officials in December 2013. It is being sponsored by the World Bank.

The project will cost around $900 million. It will take nearly three years to complete.

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