Posted by Alex on Saturday, March 22nd, 2008
Posted by Alex
I received an email from Boaz Wachtel, an independent peace activist formerly associated with Freedom House. He is hoping to get feedback from readers of Syria Comment on the proposed Peace Canal project as well as the optional Tank barrier proposal. Boaz added: “The truth of the matter is that a senior member of Israeli politics, someone close to the top, is promoting the Peace Canal Plan among decision makers as a viable option to be discussed with the syrians in the next round of negotiations”
Here are the highlights of the plan:
The 'Peace Canal Plan' was introduced (in collaboration with Freedom House, NYC*) during the First Israeli-Palestinian water conferenc e in Zurich (1992). Modifications were made since to include constructive feedback from the parties, especially from the Turkish government.
The revised 'Plan' is relevant now as ever. Its aim is multifold:
- Help Syria & Israel reach a peace agreement by allowing a safe Israeli withdrawal and the demilitarization of the Golan Heights.
- Stabilize water inventories in northern Jordan, western Syria, Israel and Palestine.
- Produce hydro-electric power on the slopes of the Heights
- Restore the Jordan River and the Dead Sea's past qualities.
Turkish presidents officially offered number of times in the past to sell up to 4 Billion cubic meter of water a year to Middle Eastern countries from rivers flowing to the Mediterranean in south central Turkey.
The Peace Canal Plan:
The 'Peace Canal Plan' is based on the purchase from Turkey of about 2 billion c/m/yr, (or more as needed) from the Ceyhan and Seyhan rivers (14 b/c/m/yr combine discharge) for distribution of about 250-500 million cm/yr. each between Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Israel via closed canal and pipelines.
In Syria, the water could be used in western cities (that lack adeqate water of good quality) and on the Golan Heights where Syria plans to resettle thousands of people once its back in her hands.
The Jordanian share could be used in the Jordan Valley and pumped from the Golan Geights to cities on the elevated Jordanian plateau.
Israel and Palestine could use their shares to recharge the Coastal, mountain and Gaza aquifers and support an equitable water sharing agreement.
Additional water could be purchased by the Israeli and Jordanian governments/industries from Turkey and conveyed through the Peace Canal Plan to:
A) Rivitalize the Jordan River and slow the rapid decline of the Dead Sea level
B) Allow for more Palestinian and Jordanian agricultural production in the Jordan Valley.
The project is designed to produce hydro-electricity on the western and southern slopes of the Golan Heights to offset the conveyance costs (700 KM to the central Golan Heights from Turkey) for the reciving parties.
An option exists to construct a 40km section of the project, on most of the current Syrian-Israeli border on the Heights, as a wide and deep open water canal and combine it with a tank barrier.
The open canal can be utilized as:
- A tank barrier to deter and delay surprised armored attacks of either side,
- A shared storage reservoir for the Syrians and Jordanians on the Golan Heights,
- For pumped storage reservoir vis-à-vis the Sea of Galilee (for electricity production during peak and off peak hours).
In unity, these elements add water, energy and physical security for the parties without infringing upon the territorial integrity or the water inventory of either side.
The Peace Canal Plan could:
- Facilitate a peace agreement between Israel and Syria through a safe Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights and the resolution of the territorial and water dispute.
- Support an equitable water sharing agreement between Israel and Palestine.
- Enhance and stabilize recipients' water inventories.
Save the Jordan River and the Dead Sea from drying up.
The project could be constructed with standard technologies in 3-4 years with private or international institutional capital. It requires US and International (UN) guarantees to provide the necessary level of security for the parties. Price per cm for final users is estimated at under $0.50 US dollar. Wachtel (1992) estimates the cost of such a project at US$5,000-$7,000 million.
(*) Freedom House is the first Human Rights and Democracy Advocacy organization in the world, established by Eleanor Roosevelt)