JERUSALEM (Nov. 7)
Israeli-American talks have ended here in what Israeli officials call this country’s largest-ever desalination effort–a $32 million agreement for two plants in Israel and one in the US. The Israeli plants will be at Eilat (one million gallons a day) and at Ashdod (11 million). The Eilat plant is already under construction. On the American side, a plant with an as yet unspecified capacity will be built in San Diego, Calif. Israel and the US will divide equally the construction costs, according to the Foreign Ministry.
Previously, desalination was shunned by both countries because of prohibitive costs, although small efforts were made. The late Premier Levi Eshkol sought to interest the US in a joint project during his term of office (1963-69), but Washington resisted his appeals. Now, a new Israel invention incorporating aluminum piping in the desalination process has changed America’s mind. Dr. Eliezer Tal, director of the National Committee for Research and Development of the Premier’s Office, represented Israel at the pact-signing here Friday. Interior Department officials represented the US.