01/12/2012 03:16

Project would connect the Mediterranean and Dead seas through a canal, could improve environment, tourism and agriculture.
Talkbacks (12)

In light of the looming energy crisis and dwindling condition of the Dead Sea, Israel Chamber of Commerce President Uriel Lynn recently appealed to relevant ministers that they reexamine the idea of creating a canal between the Mediterranean and Dead seas.

Lynn sent a joint letter this week to Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan and Energy and Water Minister Dr. Uzi Landau, urging them to create a committee that would investigate the opportunities afforded by such a plan, according to his office.

The project, historically called “Med-Dead,” would connect the two bodies of water through a canal, and a hydroelectric power station at the mouth of the Dead Sea would be capable of providing 240 megawatts worth of power, only a little less than the capacity of a coal-fired unit, Lynn argued.

“In the 1970s, the Israeli government initiated the digging of a canal that would link the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea,” Lynn wrote to the ministers, stressing the need to once again examine the project’s feasibility from economic and other perspectives.

During his time as director-general of what was formerly called the Energy and Infrastructure Ministry, Lynn said that he served as the head of a government body that did such checks and evaluated the plan’s potential contribution to the economy, including the clean energy that would be gained from the hydroelectric power plant.

The project would have the ability to not only increase water flow into the ever-dwindling Dead Sea northern basin, but would also have ancillary benefits, like improving the environment, tourism and agriculture, according to Lynn.

“The idea was to finance the project mainly in bond loans,” he wrote. “I suggest you establish a joint committee that will reexamine the feasibility of the canal project for the State of Israel.”

To Lynn’s appeal, Landau responded in a letter on Wednesday explaining that the government had actually decided in March 2007 to conduct a feasibility study on such a connection, but between the Dead Sea and Red Sea – known as “Red-Dead” – rather than the Mediterranean.

While the original responsibility for fulfilling this task fell in the hands of the Prime Minister’s Office, it currently is under the auspices of the regional development minister, even though it should logically be within Landau’s jurisdiction, the minister argued.

However, Landau wrote, a team led by the World Bank – but including representatives from Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority – are currently looking into the plan’s economic feasibility and environmental implications, and will soon be submitting their findings to the Israeli government.