The Dead Sea 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The cabinet rejected a bill for the second time that would provide for the
comprehensive rehabilitation of the Dead Sea region, during a meeting on
“The Israeli government continues to stand by the side of the
factories and to thwart any move that could save the Dead Sea and return it to
its original owners – the public,” said Adam Teva V’Din executive director, Amit
Bracha, in a statement released by his office.
The bill, drafted by Adam
Teva V’Din (Israel Union for Environmental Defense) and put forward by MK Dov
Henin (Hadash), advocated a comprehensive Dead Sea rehabilitation plan, to help
curb sinking water levels in the northern basin, preserve area resources and
revamp the management structure overseeing mineral extraction.
being defeated in a cabinet vote about a monthand- a-half ago, the issue came up
for a second vote today, in which Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan
was the sole supporter, with four objectors, according to his office. The vote
occurred on Monday, as the regular Sunday cabinet meeting stretched into the
According to Erdan’s office, Minister-without-Portfolio
Bennie Begin (Likud) declared during the cabinet discussion that the current
state of the Dead Sea is not a “catastrophe” and that the region’s sinkholes
have transformed the area into a tourism mecca.
Erdan responded that if
Israel continues with its current practices, not only the Dead Sea, but also
Lake Kinneret, will disappear as tourist attractions. He will be submitting an
appeal to the government about the decision, his office said.
rejection comes a week after the cabinet’s approval of an agreement made between
Israel Chemicals branch Dead Sea Works and the Finance Ministry, which
stipulated that a full salt harvest occur with 80 percent financing on the part
of the company. This agreement also raised royalties owed to the government from
5% to 10%, an amount that environmental advocates criticized as trivial and
damaging to public interests.
“There is no doubt that the conduct of the
Treasury last week proves that Dead Sea Works must thank Steinitz for continuing
to protect them and to go against public interest,” Bracha said.
letter to the ministers, Bracha reminded them that last week’s agreement only
applies to salt removal from the southern basin and royalty rates the government
receives from the company. He stressed that the agreement does not include a
complete rehabilitation of the entire Dead Sea and protection of its natural
Meanwhile, the ministers also received last night an online
petition signed by over 15,000 people in support of the more comprehensive Dead
Sea bill, jointly issued by activist group Avaaz, Adam Teva V’Din and
environmental group Friends of the Earth Middle East.
Bracha added: “The
government torpedoed today a step that would save the Dead Sea and return it
from the hands of captains of industry to the hands of the public.”