JERUSALEM, Israel - An estimated $3 billion canal project between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea called the Valley of Peace initiative was unveiled during Thursday's President's Conference in Jerusalem.
The canal would stretch over 100 miles in the Arava desert between Israel and Jordan. In addition to the canal, the project would include water desalination and hydroelectric power production.
The project's sponsors plan to add several new luxury hotels, tourist attractions, and large botanical gardens. They hope to create one million additional jobs in the region for Jordanians, Palestinians and Israelis, as well as quadruple tourism to Israel which currently receives about two million annual visitors.
The project is spearheaded by Israeli billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva, owner of the El-Ad Group, New York's Plaza Hotel, and Israel's second-largest oil and gas company, and involves several other entrepreneurs, investors, and bankers in the region. Prospective foreign investors also include those from China, Russia, and the U.S.
Tshuva expects the canal to be funded by entrepreneurs making state funding unnecessary.
Israel's President Shimon Peres, Jordan's King Abdullah and Saudi Prince Walid bin-Talal have already endorsed the project.
In addition to industry, Tshuva expects the canal to funnel peace to the land as well.
"This is the only way to get out of the cycle of violence and the dead end in the area," he said adding, "Peace will be made not by peace agreements but by making cooperation and goodwill among the peoples of the region. The Valley of Peace will provide a solution for generations to come."
Source: The Jerusalem Post