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Israel and Jordan sign historic water treaty
By Jerry Brownstein
The Israeli and Jordanian governments have signed a bilateral agreement to exchange water and jointly funnel Red Sea brine to the shrinking Dead Sea. As part of the agreement a large desalination plant will be constructed in Aqaba, on the Red Sea where the southern borders of the two countries meet. They will share the potable water that will be produced by the new plant, while a pipeline will send the discarded saltwater to replenish the Dead Sea. In return for its portion of the desalinated water in the South, Israel will double the amount of water that it supplies to Jordan from the Sea of Galilee in the north.
The Israeli Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom said, “This is the most important and significant agreement since the peace treaty with Jordan in 1994. This cooperation between Israel and Jordan will assist in rehabilitating the Dead Sea, and in resolving water issues in both Jordan and southern Israel.” An important part of the agreement is the formation of a joint administration for the project, wherein officials from both countries will be equally represented. Abu Hammour, who has served as Jordan’s main negotiator, called this “the first peace process project”. He went on to say: “Not only does the agreement have the potential to save the Dead Sea and solve the water shortage, but it can build the peace process between our two countries.”