Israel Still Seeks Red-Dead Cooperation Despite Jordanian Plan to Go It Alone

Following a British newspaper report that Jordan would construct a Red Sea-Dead Sea canal without Israeli cooperation, the Water Authority has expressed its hope that Israel can still cooperate with the Hashemite kingdom on the project, thereby replenishing the world's largest hypersaline lake.

Monday's report in The Times stated Jordan intends to develop the canal without Israel, due to dissatisfaction over the state of planning with Israeli and Palestinian developers.

Water Authority officials know such a project would be more beneficial to Jordan, which urgently needs to increase its potable water supply.

But, the project will have trouble finding external funding without Israeli participation, they said.

The canal will draw water from the Gulf of Aqaba, and will run through Jordanian territory to purification facilities. Brine passing through those facilities will be pumped into the Dead Sea, which is currently sinking by about one meter a year. The World Bank began studying the project's potential efficacy last year.

"Israel, Syria and Jordan currently use all the water of the Yarmouk River and Lake Kinneret, the natural sources of the Dead Sea," said Michael Zaida, head of the authority's strategic planning department.

"That's why we can't reach a situation of pumping natural water into the Dead Sea, as some environmental groups claim. Maybe in some future diplomatic arrangement it will be different, but the alternative we're supporting is the Red-Dead project."