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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Red Sea-Dead Sea canal project would pay off, finds study

The Dead Sea. The canal would bring in water from the Red Sea.

A survey conducted by the World Bank on the benefits of a canal channeling water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea by means of a series of dams is scheduled to be published soon.

The planned canal between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea is financially worthwhile, found a survey conducted for the Regional Development Ministry.

The survey was conducted by the World Bank and is scheduled to be published soon.

The canal would channel water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea by means of a series of dams that could be opened and closed, in order to raise the Dead Sea's water level and make water available for desalination in the Arava desert and Jordan. It is expected to cost billions of dollars to build.

Several Israeli businessmen had said they were interested in funding the project, but since their portfolios were battered during the 2008 global financial crisis, this is no longer an option .

Environmental groups in Israel and Jordan have criticized the plan, saying the canal could cause ecological damage.

The ministry, led by Silvan Shalom, is scheduled to hold a conference tomorrow focusing on economic cooperation between Israel and its neighbors. Participants are to include Quartet representative Tony Blair and Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer.

Ahead of the conference, the ministry announced the Palestinian economy had expanded 9.3% in 2010 and is expected to grow at a similar pace in 2011. The ministry helped improve the crossings between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and Jordan.

"Cooperation between Israel and her neighbors is a fact, and it involves many fields including economic, environmental, health, tourism and defense," said Shalom.