February 12, 2013 – Better Dead Than Red

Better Dead Than Red

February 12, 2013

At a briefing held in Tel Aviv today, EcoPeace Middle East’s Jordanian Director, Mr. Munqeth Mehyar and Israeli Director, Mr. Gidon Bromberg released the comments of the regional organization to the set of studies undertaken by the World Bank for the purposes of “saving the Dead Sea.” [Click here for link to comments]

“The World Bank Study of Alternatives have stated for the first time what EcoPeace has been advocating for over a decade; that the Lower Jordan River can be rehabilitated, the Dead Sea stabilized; and sufficient water made available to our respective publics without the risk of undertaking an experiment that constitutes ‘playing God’ by mixing two seas,” said Gidon Bromberg.

EcoPeace welcomes the decision of the Ministry of the Environment in Israel that was also released today, that rejected the World Bank Feasibility Study Recommendation to start with a large scale conduit project. EcoPeace agrees that the project is an unacceptable risk to the environment.

EcoPeace remains surprised however, that the Ministry of the Environment supports the ‘small’ pilot approach. The Ministry states that it agrees that the Combined Alternative approach that would include the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River is the preferred option. Yet the Ministry states in a published document in Hebrew, that it supports a pilot approach, as it has no faith in the ability of the Jordanian side to enforce illegal theft of water from the Jordan River that would flow into the Dead Sea.

EcoPeace is disappointed by such a position that goes to the heart of the Peace Treaty between Jordan and Israel and is supposed to be a key objective of any project – advancing regional cooperation.

“Jordan can well guarantee the enforcement of its own laws should the parties agree on a joint project”, said Munqeth Mehyar. “The ‘pilot’ approach however, is nothing but the first of a phased approach that will not be reversed once built.”

The Dead Sea as a regional natural resource requires cooperation to save it. The World Bank Study of Alternatives has identified the Combined Alternative approach that includes the rehabilitation of the Jordan River as the only project alternative that can go ahead immediately with only positive environmental and social benefits, requiring far less than the $10 billion needed for the Red Dead conduit. EcoPeace calls on our governments, with the support of the international community, to move ahead on the Combined Alternative approach.

The World Bank will hold public hearings on the studies released, tomorrow in Amman, Tuesday in Jerusalem and Wednesday in Ramallah.

The hearing in Jerusalem on Tuesday, February 19th, is open to the public and will be held at the Adenauer Conference Center in Mishkanot She’ananim, Jerusalem, at 10:00.

For more information, contact:

Gidon Bromberg, EcoPeace Israeli Director, gidon@ecopeaceme.org 052-4532597

Mira Edelstein, EcoPeace Foreign Media Officer, mira@ecopeaceme.org, 054-6392937