A pipeline to peace? Israel, Jordan, PA sign water deal

It was a signing ceremony that hinted tantalising at what, one day, the Middle East could become.

On Monday, high-level representatives from Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority sat around a table at the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC to sign a memorandum of understanding that will allow the countries to share millions of cubic metres of water.

Through the deal, water from the Red Sea will be desalinated and piped to Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

“This is a historic agreement that realises a dream of many years and the dream of Herzl,” said Israeli Regional Co-operation and Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom. “The agreement is of the highest diplomatic, economic, environmental and strategic importance.”

The Palestinian Authority was less effusive, emphasising its co-operation with Jordan rather than Israel.

It said in a statement: “Palestine provided support to Jordan in order to establish a pilot project which Jordan recognises as a strategic project, which does not pose any threat to the Palestinian rights over water.”

The defining element of the deal will be an 80 million cubic metre desalination plant built north of Aqaba.

Israel will receive 50 to 60 per cent of the water produced and Jordan will receive the remainder.

An additional 20 million cubic metres of water will be made available for purchase by the West Bank.

Last updated: 1:21pm, December 12 2013