Former Israeli Prime Minister Simon Peres believes that peaceful coexistance is possible between Palestinians and Israelis in the Great Rift Valley south of the Dead Sea.

Israel's Search for Peace
Speaker: Shimon Peres
Presiding: Robert Strauss
Introductory Remarks: Robert Orr
September 13, 2002

RS: Way in the back. Two hands back there. One, and then the other.

Audience: Thank you. Peter Gupser(?), American University (Inaudible). Mr. Minister, we've been talking a lot about war and all that sort of thing. Let's talk about peace a little bit. Could you characterize the relationship between Israel and the countries with which it has peace, Egypt and Jordan? And specifically on Jordan you have a new king, how are your relations with the new king? And I know you like imaginative projects, they're talking about an imaginative project of a canal or a pipeline from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea to generate water, potable electricity, and refill the Dead Sea. Could you talk about that a little bit?

SP: Well, I would say about those relations what was said about the music of Wagner. It sounds better than we think. (Laughter) But there are some clear limitations. I don't want to go into it. There is the idea of having a conduit of water between the Red and Dead Sea. It will be basically a job and a project with the participation of Israel, because 70 percent of the conduit will pass through the Jordanian part of the Arabat(?). And Jordan sees in it a major project that can affect their future and the economy. And I would second this thought. We shall participate completely in this attempt to build such a conduit. The conduit is necessary for the following reasons. (A), the Dead Sea is dying. And, you know, when the Dead Sea begins to die, it may become an ecological catastrophe, and we want to prevent it. Much of ...and we have to re-compensate the Dead Sea with more water. We are now checking if the water of the Red Sea and the Dead Sea can co-exist peacefully. I hope it will happen. Secondly, such a conduit can lead salty water to the slopes of the Trolayian(?) Mountains, because the transportation of water, as you may know, is almost as expensive as the production of water. And to lead the water to Amman is quite a costly story, but then we can use maybe a little bit also the electricity that can stem from the difference in the altitudes. So for Jordan it may be also a solution for fresh water, for de-salted water, and (Inaudible).

And then our hope is to transform the whole piece of land, which is something like l20 miles between the Red and the Dead Sea, into a garden, agricultural, touristic, and otherwise. It's a beautiful piece of land. And there I shall make an advertisement, with your permission. You know, many of the people say that it's hard to live with the people, the Palestinians. We have a good example that this is not the case. Many of the citizens of Jordanians are Palestinian origin. And basically we have shown that we can co-exist. There are two nearby cities, Ahlot(?) and Dakabah (?) at the Red Sea, the distance being four to five miles. In the last 54 years since the creation of the State of Israel there wasn't an exchange of a single bullet between us. The whole piece of land, call it Aravah(?), between the Red and the Dead Sea, 120 miles, is without fences, without trenches, without infiltration, and they live together. Those are exactly the same people. And in my judgment this gives the hope too that under a different leadership and system on the Palestinian side, we can have exactly the same relations that we are having with the Jordanians to have with the Palestinians.

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