JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel and Jordan signed a bilateral agreement to exchange water and to work together to save the Dead Sea.
Government officials from the two countries signed the Seas Canal agreement at a ceremony Thursday on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea. Dignitaries from both sides, as well as representatives from the World Bank and the U.S. embassies in Israel and Jordan, were on hand, according to a statement from Israel’s Regional Cooperation Ministry.
The agreement implements the first stage of the Seas Canal project, including the construction of a desalination plant north of Aqaba to supply water to the Arava region in Israel and to Aqaba in Jordan.
Residual saline brines will be piped to the Dead Sea through an approximately 125-mile pipeline from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea in order to stabilize and save the Dead Sea.
Also in the framework of the agreement, water from northern Israel will be piped to Amman. The effect of the process on the Dead Sea, as well as other environmental effects, will be monitored and studied.
“This is the most important and significant agreement since the peace treaty with Jordan,” said Silvan Shalom, Israel’s regional cooperation minister, who signed the agreement on behalf of his country. “This is the peak of fruitful and very good cooperation between Israel and Jordan and will assist in rehabilitating the Dead Sea and in resolving water issues in Jordan and the Arava.”
Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority signed a memorandum of understanding in December 2013 in Washington.