Jordan pulls out of water desalination project

Jordan pulls out of water desalination project with Israel and Palestinian Authority
2 min read
18 June, 2021
Jordan is expected to proceed alone with a smaller version of the desalination project.
Water shortages have been a growing problem in Jordan [Getty]

Jordan has chosen to not to continue cooperation in a water desalination project, which was long seen as an important joint project between it, the Palestinian Authority, and Israel, according to Israeli broadcaster KAN

The “Red-Dead” project was conceived to move water from Jordan to a desalination plant near the Dead Sea.

According to the Israeli foreign ministry and ministry of regional cooperation, the Hashemite Kingdom has yet to make a formal announcement of its decision. 

The project was conceived in 2002, but was never formally started due to concerns raised about the cost effectiveness, when compared to alternate plans, and environmental issues. 

The original plan foresaw 2 billion cubic metres of water being pumped from Aqaba to a desalination plant near the Dead Sea. The resulting 800 million m3 would then be sent back to Jordan, while the salty residue byproduct would be sent to the Dead Sea, in an effort to stabilise it and halt its diminishing shoreline. 

When this plan was scrapped, another project which would have seen a desalination plant built in Aqaba, and the salty residue piped to the Dead Sea. Additionally, this project would have also included water being sold to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. 

 

With the news that Jordan no longer intends to cooperate with Israel or the Palestinian Authority, it is expected that they will proceed alone with a smaller version of the project. 

Water shortages in the Hashemite Kingdom are a serious problem, and have been the root of much anger directed at the ruling royal family. 

The lack of water diplomacy between Israel and Jordan also led to much criticism of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was blamed for failing to improve relations between the two countries. 

As part of the 1994 peace treaty, Israel was required to provide Jordan with 55 million m3 of water per year, for three cents per m3, and in 2010, the yearly allocation was increased by a further 10 million m3 at 40 cents per m3.

While not directly referencing the “Red-Dead” project, new Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid emphasised the importance of good relations between Israel and Jordan at his swearing in ceremony on Monday. 

“I would like to add something in light of recent reports: Jordan is an important strategic ally for Israel. King Abdullah is an important regional leader and a strategic ally. We will work with him and strengthen the relationship between our two countries,” said Lapid.