U.S. Water News Online
JERUSALEM -- Israel has signed an agreement to buy water
from Turkey and may pay for part of it with weapons, in a deal aimed
at alleviating Israel's chronic water shortage and cementing its
relations with an important Middle East ally.
Under the 20-year agreement, Turkey will ship 40,500 acre feet of
water annually from its Manavgat River, which flows into the
Mediterranean Sea, the two countries said. Details must still be
worked out, including the price of the water and how to transport it
to Israel, they said.
The agreement, more than two years in the making, comes at a time
when Israel's main source of fresh water, the Sea of Galilee, is full
to overflowing after abundant rainfall. But long-term prospects in
the arid region are bleak.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Jonathan Peled said the water
would probably be shipped in tankers or towed across the
Mediterranean in large plastic bubbles to a storage facility.
Based on estimated shipping costs from the ministry, the deal
could amount to tens of millions of dollars a year for Turkey. Peled
said a small amount of that money would be paid in goods, most likely
In the parched Middle East, water is a strategic issue as well as
one of survival. Turkey is one of the few countries in the region
with water reserves, and sales of the precious commodity could boost
its position as a regional power.
Israel's relationship with the large Islamic country is important
to the Jewish state, especially after more than three years of
fighting with the Palestinians. The violence has caused tension in
the Middle East and strained Israel's ties with Egypt and Jordan, the
only Arab countries with which it has signed peace treaties.
``This agreement will increase the cooperation between the two
countries and also lead to peace and stability in the Middle East,''
said Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Namik Tan.
He said the landmark agreement turns water into an internationally
accepted ``commodity,'' and that Turkey hopes to sell water to other
Israel currently gets most of its water from the Sea of Galilee.
It also is building a desalination plant in the port city of
Ashkelon, a project that is expected to take several years to
Peled said Israel hopes the deal with Turkey could lead to further
agreements to share water with Jordan or the Palestinians.
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