Red-Dead Canal Project to Finally Get Approval

A view of Route 90 at the southern Dead Sea. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

After five years of delays, the government is set to approve the Red-Dead Canal project, which would entail building a canal to bring water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea area, where a desalination plant was to be built, with the water to be shared by Israel and Jordan. Water would also be pumped from the Mediterranean, to bolster the Dead Sea itself, which has been shrinking due to a lesser flow of water from the Jordan River, the result of drought and diversion of water from the Kinneret.

The project was supposed to begin construction in 2013, after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu signed a deal with King Abdullah II of Jordan. But the deal was halted after an incident in which an Israeli security guard at the Israeli Embassy in Amman killed a local resident, leading to the closure of the embassy and several years of frosty diplomatic relations. The refusal of Jordan to extend leases of land to Israeli farmers  in the border area also soured Israeli officials on the project. In addition, several Israeli experts opposed the deal, saying it was too expensive.

According to Channel Ten, Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi recently met in New York with Jordanian officials to close the deal. The government is set to approve the project when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu returns to Israel from Brazil. Israel will spend $40 million on the project over the next 25 years on the 200-kilometer-long project.

Commenting on the project, Hanegbi said that it will “enable Jordan to deal with its water crisis, and allow us to rescue the Dead Sea from drying out. Most important, it will strengthen the peace between Israel and an Arab country that has a peace treaty with us.”