June 17th, 2008
Paris, Tel-Aviv, Amman and Bethlehem
Friends of the Earth groups in France and the Middle East today called on French President Sarkozy to declare his support for a full and independent study of the alternatives to saving the Dead Sea to be completed prior to any project implementation.
Despite France being the single largest funder of a 24 month World Bank Study just started last month of the proposed canal to link the Red Sea with the Dead Sea, Sarkozy is planning to participate in a ceremony, June 22-24, at the Dead Sea, that will in effect call for the World Bank study to be ignored and planning of the project to proceed immediately.
Claude Bascompte, Chairman of FoE France said, “It’s absolutely irresponsible of President Sarkozy on the one hand to try to create facts on the ground by launching the project and bringing some of the largest companies in Europe to the region to start planning actual implementation, yet at the same time spend French tax payers money on a 2 year study that is quite likely to conclude that the project is not feasible.”
Munqeth Mehyar, Jordanian Director of EcoPeace Middle East in Amman, said, “French President Sarkozy appears not to realize that he has stepped into a mine field of controversy. The project ideas of building an open canal across the desert, Dubai style hotels, Los Vegas casinos and African safaris are unprecedented in size not only for the Middle East but globally. They threaten to completely alter the World Heritage values of the Arava Valley and the Dead Sea itself.”
EcoPeace Middle East has been calling on the World Bank to look into the current mismanagement of water resources in the region as the root cause for the demise of the Dead Sea.
“Since time immemorial it was the Jordan River that replenished the Dead Sea. In just 50 years we have managed to turn the holy Jordan into a sewage canal and dry up a third of the Dead Sea”, said Gidon Bromberg Israeli Director of EcoPeace Middle East in Tel-Aviv. “It appears that the French Government led by French business interests is using the demise of the Dead Sea as the means to try to greenwash the public and cover up their true intentions of reaping the profits from the tens of billions of dollars that the project would need to attract.”