Gov’t earmarks NIS 845m. for Dead Sea rehabilitation plan

The plan will include renovations to tourist infrastructure at the Hamei Zohar and Ein Bokek areas.

The Dead Sea 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Dead Sea 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The state will spend NIS 845 million over the next five years to rehabilitate the Dead Sea, the Tourism Ministry said on Monday.
According to the ministry, the sum was agree upon during a meeting of Finance, Tourism, Environmental Protection, and Energy and Water Ministry officials on Sunday night. NIS 725m. will come from the Tourism Ministry and the rest from the Environmental Ministry.
The plan will include renovations to tourist infrastructure at the Hamei Zohar and Ein Bokek areas, as well as a number of locations that have been damaged by rising water in the Dead Sea’s southern basin in recent years (the largely disconnected northern basin is shrinking). The Tourism Ministry said that the work will also include rehabilitating the parks and nature areas that have been hurt by the changes in the level of the Dead Sea.
The Tourism Ministry said it is to present a proposal for the rehabilitation projects within 60 days, and the cabinet will then decide whether to approve the budget for the project.
Early last month, the cabinet approved an agreement reached between the Finance Ministry and Israel Chemicals Ltd. that stipulates the division of costs toward a full salt harvest of the Dead Sea’s southern basin, as part of its rehabilitation.
Under the agreement, Israel Chemicals unit Dead Sea Works will provide NIS 3.04 billion – 80 percent of the cost of the project.
The state will fund the remaining NIS 760m., of which NIS 337m. is its share of the current value of a $30m. dividend it withdrew in 1992 to finance the sea’s protection. The state’s share of potash sales will rise from 5% to 10%, with the additional royalties to be designated for a Dead Sea rehabilitation fund.
Environmental activists and some politicians slammed the cabinet’s decision to approve the agreement, saying that the state should get a much higher share of the royalties.

Nadav Shemer and Sharon Udasin contributed to this report.