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Israeli-Palestinian water deal could chart course for further talks

An agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on the Red Sea-Dead Sea canal project could build some trust between the sides, but the Palestinians are leery of any impact from it going into negotiations.
Pipes that pump water cross through evaporation pools, which today make up the southern part of the Dead Sea, Israel July 27, 2015. The Dead Sea is shrinking, and as its waters vanish at a rate of more than one meter a year, hundreds of sinkholes, some the size of a basketball court, some two storeys deep, are devouring land where the shoreline once stood.Picture taken July 27, 2015. REUTERS/Amir Cohen - RTX1M941
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President Donald Trump's envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, said at a July 13 joint press conference for Israeli and Palestinian representatives that "Water is a precious commodity in the Middle East. The US welcomes the agreement reached by the Palestinian Authority [PA] and the government of Israel, which will allow for the sale of 32 million cubic meters of water from Israel to the [PA]." The deal, which will allow Palestinians to purchase water at reduced rates, was made in the context of the Red Sea-Dead Sea canal project led by Israel and Jordan.

Also participating in the press conference, which took place in Jerusalem's King David Hotel, were Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Tzahi Hanegbi and the head of the Palestinian Water Authority, Mazen Ghonaim. "This is the biggest, most ambitious project ever in our region," said Hanegbi.

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