Amman decides to pull out from joint pipeline project, assessing there was ‘no real desire on Israelis’ part’ to promote the plan which had stagnated for several years

i24NEWS | Published: 06.17.21 , 20:13

Jordan has decided to pull out from a high-profile joint project with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to construct a canal that would connect the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, public broadcaster Kan reported Thursday.

According to anonymous sources, Amman decided to end the joint pipeline project, assessing that there was “no real desire on the part of the Israelis” to promote the plan which had stagnated for several years.

ים המלח
The Dead Sea
(Photo: Mario Troiani)

According to Kan, Jordan would now focus on an internal project of pumping water from the Red Sea and desalinating it at a plant in the Gulf of Aqaba.However, even if the Hashemite Kingdom manages to find donors for the domestic water supply project, its construction could take up to five or six years, and the kingdom will have to continue to purchase some 50 million cubic meters of water from Israel each year, provided as part of the 1994 peace agreement between the two countries.

The Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal project, which enjoyed the enthusiastic backing of former president Shimon Peres, has long been delayed by bureaucratic hurdles, funding difficulties, and environmental objections. Recently, Israel’s lack of a functioning government for the past two years and diplomatic relations with Jordan at one of their lowest ebbs has meant the project was put on the backburner.

המלך עבדאללה ירדן
King Abdullah II of Jordan
(Photo: Gettyimages)

Despite rising tensions between the two neighbors, new Foreign Minister Yair Lapid appeared to be willing to improve relations, praising Jordan’s King Abdullah II Monday as “an important strategic ally” and promising to work with him.After being talked about for years, a canal agreement was signed in 2013 to alleviate the severe water shortage in Jordan — which has only been exacerbated in recent years — while replenishing the Dead Sea whose water level continue to tick down.

Jordan pulls plug on Red-Dead water project with Israel – report – Jerusalem Post

The project has long been frozen and professionals have expressed concern about environmental issues and the cost-effectiveness of the project compared to other alternatives.


The sun rises over the Dead Sea, Israel (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The sun rises over the Dead Sea, Israel (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Jordan has decided not to pursue a revival of the highly publicized desalination water project dubbed the “Red-Dead” that had long been considered a symbol of cooperation between the Hashemite Kingdom, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, KAN News reported on Thursday.

The Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Regional Cooperation have not received any formal notification of Jordan’s decision. The project, initiated in 2002, has long been frozen and professionals have expressed concern about environmental issues and the cost effectiveness of the project compared to other alternatives.

According  to the Israeli NGO EcoPeace, the initial project would have piped 2 billion cubic meters of water from Aqaba to a desalination plant near the Dead Sea. The 800 million c.m. of water that would have been produced would have been sent back to Jordan while the salty residue would have been piped into the Dead Sea to stabilize it and restore its shrinking shore line, according to EcoPeace. The link between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea, led to the project’s nick name.Later versions of the project also scaled down the project, and placed a desalinization plant near Aqaba with the salty resident piped to the Dead Sea. The project also included water sales to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, according to EcoPeace.Jordan, according to KAN, is now expected to move forward with a smaller desalinization project within the Kingdom without any partnerships with Israel or the Palestinian Authority.

Jordan suffers from severe water shortages that have helped fuel some of the instability and frustration with the Hashemite monarchy.Among the criticism leveled against former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  was his failure to leverage Israel’s water technology to help stabilize Jordan and improve relations between the two counties. Jordan-Israel ties frayed under Netanyahu.

Its 1994 peace treaty with Jordan mandates that Israel provide Jordan with 55m. c.m. of water annually at 3 cents per c.m. In 2010 the allocation was increased by 10m. c.m at 40 cents a meter. This year it agreed to provide Jordan with an additional 3m. c.m. at the same 40 cents price.Foreign Minister Yair Lapid spoke of Jordan’s importance to Israel when he was sworn into office on Monday. “I would like to add something in light of recent reports: Jordan is an important strategic ally for Israel. King Abdullah is an important regional leader and a strategic ally. We will work with him and strengthen the relationship between our two countries,” Lapid said.