Billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva Unveils Detailed Plans for Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal

At Peres' presidential conference, Tshuva says Saudi prince, Israeli businesspeople expressed interest in investing in project. hosts Peres' Presidential Conference Web site

Real estate mogul Yitzhak Tshuva on Thursday unveiled his construction plans for the building of the Red Sea-Dead Sea canal, which is to run from the Israeli port city of Eilat on the Red Sea, 200 km to the Dead Sea.

The Israeli billionaire told the "Facing Tomorrow" presidential conference in Jerusalem that Saudi prince Al-Walid bin Talal, whom he had met at his Plaza Hotel in New York earlier this week, had voiced willingness to invest in the project, which aims to provide electricity and potable water to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Tshuva said that the prince was ready to begin working on the project immediately, in coordination with Jordan. He quoted the Saudi prince as saying that peace and economy go hand in hand, and that it is inconceivable that a peace accord is signed by people who can't afford to feed their children.

Tshuva announced that many businesspeople from around the world had also expressed interest in joining the project, which aims Among those interested in investing in the project, Tshuva said, were Bank Hapoalim owner Shari Arison, Diamond and mining magnate Benny Steinmetz, tycoon Nochi Dankner and industry bigwig Stef Wertheimer among many. He said that Wertheimer was ready to begin working on the project immediately by building an industrial village, and that within two years water would be able to flow.

The real estate mogul went on to say that he and President Shimon Peres, who was hosting the international conference, shared a similar vision, as Peres has been promoting the Red Sea-Dead Sea canal for many years. Tshuva declared that it was a great honor for him to take part in a project that will turn the border between Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority into a "valley of peace", adding that only financial ties between nations will bring stability and peace to the region.

The plan, according to Tshuva, includes the desalination of a billion cubic meters of water each year, which comprise 30 percent of the water consumed by Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians combined. The water will be used to water arid land and allow millions to populate either side of the canal. Waterfalls will be used to generate electricity for the area and the desalinated water will promote agriculture, greenhouses and the cultivation of agricultural exports, Tshuva explained.

Tshuva went on to say that visitor attractions were also planned along the banks of the canal, including parks, lagoons and entertainment centers as well as hotels and beaches. Up to 200,000 hotel rooms are in store - three times the number of hotel rooms currently existing in Israel, he said, which means that Israel could accommodate 8 million tourists, rather than the 2 million it can hold today. Everything will flourish and prosper, he said, more people will be involved in industry, peace will be achieved through understanding, job opportunities and goodwill.

Continuing to describe his vision, Tshuva said that there will be gardens along the banks of the canal representing the nations of the entire world. The area will become an attraction for people from the world over, he predicted. There will be trains and roads on either side of the canal that will enable safe and fast transportation to any spot in the region, he added.

The area surrounding the canal, Tshuva continued, will be declared a free trade zone in order to entice companies from around the world. He remarked that the project could potentially generate over one million new jobs, of which some 300,000 to 400,000 will be manned by Palestinians. They will focus on industry rather than terror, he exclaimed. It will be a solution to our future and theirs, he added.

Tshuva concluded with hopes that regulators in Israel and Jordan will swiftly legislate a canal law in order to facilitate the issuing of equal tenders in the world. He also voiced hope that additional nations will support the project and advance peace in the region.