By: Zack Duvall
During his first press conference since March, Trump administration envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, announced that officials from Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority have all accepted the terms of a new water deal between the three that could allow for up to 80 million cubic meters a year to flow through a water pipeline, that stretches from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea.
The World Bank supported and sponsored deal, dubbed the ‘Red-Dead Project’, allows for nearly 120-miles worth of pipe to be installed between the two bodies of water that connect to a desalination plant slated to be built in the Jordanian port of Aquba.
The pipeline project is a rare common ground and working partnership between Israel and Palestine and, as Greenblatt acknowledged, does little to address the violence between the two sides. Greenblatt pushed back hard against any speculation the deal could lead to renewed peace talks.
“Let me interrupt you to save time. We are only here taking questions about the Red-Dead (water) Project.” He said as reporters asked questions shifting the narrative of the Thursday press conference to failed 2014 peace talks being resumed as a result of the project. However, he did go on to reiterate that he hopes, and believes, the new deal will benefit all parties involved.
“We hope that this deal will contribute to the healing of the Dead Sea and that it will help not only Palestinians and Israelis, but Jordanians as well.” Greenblatt said of the deal.
Additional terms of the new agreement include a stipulation that Israel will increase water sales to the Palestinian Authority by 30 million cubic meters a year, and that Israel will guarantee to buy at least half of the estimated 80 million cubic meters of water produced by the new desalination plant a year, at a price not to exceed cost of refining and production.
According to experts, including Israeli Regional Co-Operation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, the estimated cost of the project, including the desalination plant, is $900 million with a time frame of between four to five years.