Ben-Eliezer to Go to Jordan to Push Dead-Red Canal

National Infrastructures Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer will go to Jordan on Sunday to sign an agreement to conduct a study on the economic feasibility of a proposed 200 kilometer-long canal connecting the Dead Sea to the Red Sea.

According to the Prime Minister's Office, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has agreed to place the project under Vice Premier Shimon Peres' office. However, because the project has yet to be approved by the government, Olmert agreed to allow Ben-Eliezer to travel to Jordan and sign the agreement on the feasibility study. The World Bank, which is supposed to foot the $15 million bill for the study, has yet to approve the funding.

Ben-Eliezer told Haaretz yesterday that he has already raised the money, and reached an agreement in principle on the study with Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, the donor countries and the World Bank over a year ago. Ben-Eliezer said the project belongs under his ministry, and he has no idea why Peres is intervening.

The project calls for pumping 650 million cubic meters into the Dead Sea to balance the evaporation caused by mineral mining.