Jordan Seeks Answers on Future of Dead-Med Project

YERUSHALAYIM -
Salt pools in the Dead Sea. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Jordan has asked Israel what it intends to do regarding the so-called Dead-Med canal project. The Al-Rad newspaper quoted Jordan’s Water Minister Hazam al-Nassar as saying that he had sent a formal letter on the matter to Israeli officials in recent days, asking if Israel planned to undertake the initial stage of planned work to connect the Dead Sea with the Mediterranean.

The new project was envisioned already some 80 years ago. The Dead Sea is located at the lowest point on earth, and a canal running from the Mediterranean through relatively flat areas of the Negev could help boost the supply of water in the constantly shrinking Dead Sea. On its way, the water would flow through an underground hydroelectric plant, generating up to 1,500 megawatts of power.

After much deliberation, Jordan agreed to the development, and according to the report the two sides have discussed the plan in depth, although the contents have been held “back channel.” However, the project had been unofficially frozen after Jordan ejected Israel’s ambassador in the wake of the incident earlier this year in which an Israeli security guard killed two Jordanians defending himself from a terror attack. Israeli officials have told Jordan that the project will remain frozen until the matter is resolved, the report said. Jordan has asked Israel for an answer on the continuation of the project by the end of the year.

The project is opposed by environmental groups. Gideon Bromberg, chairman of the Ecopeace organization, told business daily Globes that “the project will damage Israel’s freshwater supply as well as the balance of minerals and salts in the Dead Sea, which could have dramatic changes on the local ecosystem. The Dead Sea’s main source of water has been the freshwater flowing from the Jordan River, and primping it with salt water from the Mediterranean will have untold consequences.”