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FoEME is closely monitoring the proposed building of a canal linking the Dead Sea and the Red Sea. The building of this canal raises many questions...

FoEME is closely monitoring the proposed building of a canal linking the Dead Sea and the Red Sea. Recently, there has been renewed interest in the project as expressed by both Israeli and Jordanian government officials. The project has an estimated cost of 5 billion dollars and requires extensive international financial support, where the World Bank, IFC, USAID, EU and UNDP have all been approached to support this project. The governments are promoting the project as cementing peace between Israel and Jordan.

FoEME is presently undertaking an independent economical environmental assessment of the proposed canal project, funded by the MERC program of the U.S. Government. This assessment will enable FoEME to have a professional independent assessment on the pros and cons of the project and a strong basis on which to base an opinion and launch a campaign.

The building of this canal raises many questions, such as:

1. What impact will pumping water out of the Gulf of Aqaba have on the coral reefs?

2. What changes to the landscape of the Arava Valley will result from this project, during construction and after?

3. What will happen when the Dead Sea is 'filled up?'

4. How will the threat of gypsum, and other problems from the mixing of water, be addressed? Will toxic odours be released by the mixing of the two seas - scaring away tourists?

5. Will control over pumping, desalinated water production, and distribution be handed over to private, for-profit business concerns? If so, what kinds of guarantees exist to protect the public's interests?

6. What kinds of solutions will be found for silt, potential leakage of water during transport?

7. Will changing the chemical composition of the Dead Sea result in loss of its unique characteristics? In particular, the health benefits that lead to tourism?

8. Will a man made lake be built as part of the project in the Arava Valley?

9. Will decisions regarding this project be made in consultation with environmental NGO's, local communities, and experts not on the payroll of governments and business concerns?

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