World Bank officials have thrown their support behind the trilateral water
sharing agreement Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority signed last
They suggested that the organization may be willing to play a
financial role in the plans.
“I am pleased that the long-term engagement
of the World Bank has facilitated this next step by the three governments, which
will enhance water availability and facilitate the development of new water
through desalination,” Inger Andersen, the World Bank vice president for the
Middle East and North Africa Region, said on Wednesday. “I would like to
emphasize the World Bank’s continuous engagement to help all sides make decisive
and historic progress.”
On December 9, senior officials from the three
governments met at the World Bank headquarters in Washington to sign a
memorandum of understanding on water exchanges and sharing. A key component of
the agreement is the development of an 80 million cubic meter desalination plant
in Aqaba, from which Israel will be able to buy 50 to 60 percent of the water.
Jordan would be able to buy an additional 50 million cubic meters of water from
Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) annually – roughly double the current
allocation – and Israel would allow for the direct sale of an additional 20
million cubic meters of water from the Mekorot national water company to the
The understanding calls for a 200-kilometer pipeline to carry
residual salt brines from the desalination process to the Dead Sea.
the day of the signing, World Bank officials told The Jerusalem Post that media
reports claiming that the institution had agreed to provide a bridge loan for
the process were untrue.
“We are very happy to play the facilitator role.
We have definitely not agreed to any financing for this,” Alexander McPhail, the
lead water and sanitation specialist in the World Bank’s Water Practice
division, said at the time.
Now, a week-and-a-half later, however, a
World Bank spokesman explained that following the signing, the bank’s teams have
began engaging with donors who have signaled serious interest in support the
In addition, once the technical studies surrounding the project
have been satisfactorily completed, the World Bank Group would consider
exploring financial engagement in the project, if requested, the spokesman
“Every effort will be made to assist the three governments in
moving forward, with the ultimate goal of helping to implement the project,” the
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