The Red-Dead seas canal: a Zionist victory

Israel Jordan Palestine water agreement

By Jamal Kanj

The two seas canal agreement, connecting the Red and Dead sea, was summed up best by Silvan Shalom, Israel’s minister for development of the Negev and the Galilee, who jubilantly described it, following the 9 December signing ceremony at the World Bank headquarters, as “a historic agreement that realizes… the dream of [founder of modern Zionism Theodore] Herzl”.

The canal was another strategic triumph for Israel’s conniving diplomacy, even after the project was reduced to about one-tenth of its original size due to serious economic and environmental concerns raised by the World Bank.

The Zionist-envisioned project was repackaged and sponsored by Jordan as a must to save the Dead Sea, and building a large desalination plant providing Israel and Jordan with eight billion to 13 billion gallons of fresh water annually.

According to Israeli and international environmentalists, Israeli government’s policies of over pumping from the Sea of Galilee and Jordan River – serving Jews-only colonies – was the main cause for the loss of nearly 30 per cent of the Dead Sea’s mass in the last 50 years.

…while under the agreement the Palestinian Authority will purchase water from Israel, Israel continues to expropriate the occupied West Bank’s water aquifers for the benefit of illegal Jewish colonies for free.

Herzl’s repackaged vision includes articles tacitly granting Israel exclusive water rights in the supposedly shared Sea of Galilee and Jordan River water. This is because the agreement empowers Israel to transfer nearly 13 billion gallons of fresh water from those bodies to Jordan and to sell the Palestinian Authority 8 billion gallons of drinking water at preferential prices.

Even more cynical is that while under the agreement the Palestinian Authority will purchase water from Israel, Israel continues to expropriate the occupied West Bank’s water aquifers for the benefit of illegal Jewish colonies for free.

In addition to political concerns, environmentalists have warned that introducing new water from the Red Sea will bring a host of new invasive photosynthetic organisms, which could lead to drastic negative consequences affecting the unique natural system of the Dead Sea.

In fact, international and Israeli environmentalists have suggested that an alternative, re-establishing the Jordan River to its natural state, would have been a better solution to the decline of the Dead Sea than the proposed canal.

While it would receive roughly half of the desalinated water from the project, the 100 miles brine pipeline will run exclusively through Jordanian territory to circumvent objections by Israeli environmental groups.

The agreement provides Israel a free safety net to escape responsibility for the Dead Sea’s environmental calamity while realizing an old Zionist military-strategic vision by adding a natural water course on Israel’s eastern borders.

Lacking proper environmental oversight, a rupture in the high saline pipeline – running along a known active earthquake fault – would cause irreparable damage for a main source of Jordan’s fresh groundwater in Wadi Araba.

The agreement provides Israel a free safety net to escape responsibility for the Dead Sea’s environmental calamity while realizing an old Zionist military-strategic vision by adding a natural water course on Israel’s eastern borders. Economically, this project places Israeli water companies in a unique position to gain the most in building the waterway and associated desalination and power generation plants.

Jordan, on the other hand, is taking the biggest long-term risk since a probable structural failure in the canal system would lead to an incurable disaster for both the agriculture and ecosystem in the Jordanian valley.

By purchasing Israeli water, the Palestinian Authority is sanctioning Israel’s theft of its water aquifers from occupied West Bank, while allowing Israel to continue syphoning the only lifeline for the Dead Sea.


A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.

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