By Seth Seigel, NYT
The Trump administration has yet to broker the “toughest deal of all” — that between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Chances seem slim. But Jason Greenblatt, the president’s Middle East envoy, did announce some welcome news at a press conference Thursday in Jerusalem: The Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians will be cooperating on a large water infrastructure project, which will provide billions of gallons of new water supplies for each of the three parties.
That project — first announced in December 2013 — will take water from the Red Sea, near Israel’s southernmost city of Eilat, and use gravity to carrythe water 137 miles via the kingdom of Jordan to the southern part of the Dead Sea, adjacent to Israel’s Arava desert. There it will be desalinated, with the brine deposited in the shrinking Dead Sea and the fresh water transferred into Israel for still-to-be-built desert farms. In exchange, a water pipeline will be built from Israel into Jordan’s capital, Amman, and Israel will augment the already significant amount of water it provides to the Palestinians in the West Bank, particularly in the Hebron area.
The strategic genius of the plan is that it weaves vital economic interests of these sometimes-antagonists together. Even should Jordan or the West Bank someday fall to radical rejectionists, it would be nearly impossible for those leaders to entirely break the water ties established here without creating substantial hardship for their populations.
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