WASHINGTON, December 9, 2013 - A milestone regional cooperation agreement was signed today at the World Bank Headquarters by senior Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian representatives. This agreement will support the management of scarce water resources and the joint development and use of new water resources through sea water desalination. The agreement, in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), was signed by the ministers responsible for water in the three cooperating governments: H.E. Minister Silvan Shalom for Israel, H.E. Minister Hazim El-Naser for Jordan and H.E. Minister Shaddad Attili for the Palestinian Authority.
The MoU outlines in broad language three major regional water sharing initiatives that will be pursued over the coming months by the cooperating parties. These initiatives include the development of a desalination plant in Aqaba at the head of the Red Sea, where the water produced will be shared between Israel and Jordan; increased releases of water by Israel from Lake Tiberias for use in Jordan; and the sale of about 20-30 million m3/year of desalinated water from Mekorot (the Israeli water utility) to the Palestinian Water Authority for use in the West Bank. In addition, a pipeline from the desalination plant at Aqaba would convey brine to the Dead Sea to study the effects of mixing the brine with Dead Sea water. In order to proceed with these actions, especially the desalination plant at Aqaba, technical work and studies will need to be undertaken.
The MoU is an outcome of the cooperation since 2005 between Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority on the Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Study Program. This MoU also represents a new initiative arising from the Study Program. This phase is limited in scale and designed to accomplish two objectives: to provide new water to a critically water short region; and the opportunity, under scientific supervision, to better understand the consequences of mixing Red Sea and Dead Sea waters. At this time, the specific role of the World Bank is to assist the three governments in moving forward with the activities covered in the MoU.
“I am pleased that the long term engagement of the World Bank has facilitated this next step by the three governments, which will enhance water availability and facilitate the development of new water through desalination,” said Inger Andersen, Regional Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, on behalf of the World Bank at the signing ceremony.