Excerpts: Egypt's climate of intimidation. Red Sea- Dead Sea Water
Conveyance Project. EU plan for Israel-Palestinian peace talks January 14,
+++SOURCE: The Washington Post’s View via Egypt Daily News 14 J an.’13: by
W.P. Editorial Board:”Egypt’s climate of intimidation”
SUBJECT: ’Egypt’s climate of intimidation’
QUOTE: ”The most important measure of Egypt’s Islamist government . . . will
be whether it it preserves the democratic norms that allowed its own rise to
FULL TEXT:THE MOST important measure of Egypt’s Islamist government will not
be how it manages the economy or even whether it maintains friendly
relations with the United States and Israel; it will be whether it preserves
the democratic norms that allowed its own rise to power. If Egyptians are
able to freely criticize the government’s performance and can eventually
vote it out of office if they are dissatisfied, the inevitable mistakes and
occasional abuses of President Mohamed Morsi will be correctable.
Mr. Morsi and his Freedom and Justice party, backed by the Muslim
Brotherhood, insist that they are committed to the democratic system. They
say that they will protect press freedom and allow all opposition parties to
operate freely. After only a few months in office, however, there are
disturbing signs that they may not stick to those promises.
Foremost among them is the increasing pressure being brought to bear on
critical journalists. In recent months at least half a dozen prominent
editors, writers and cartoonists have been the targets of criminal
investigations, many of them launched by a prosecutor appointed by Mr. Morsi
following complaints from the president’s office. The charges range from
reporting false news to blasphemy; a cartoonist for the independent Al-Masry
Al-Youm newspaper was accused of the latter after she published a cartoon
depicting Adam and Eve.
One of Egypt’s most popular television personalities, Bassem Yousef, became
the target of a criminal investigation last month after he displayed a
pillow with Mr. Morsi’s image on it. Mr. Yousef, who models himself after
American comedian Jon Stewart, was accused of denigrating the head of state.
Mr. Morsi’s office protests that it is not responsible for these
investigations; it points out that the charges against Mr. Yousef, as well
as some other journalists, were initiated by private lawyers, who are
allowed to lodge complaints with prosecutors. But several of the cases
originated with complaints from the president’s office. And the government
has not hesitated to impose its agenda on state-run media, installing its
own editors and yanking unsympathetic news hosts off the air.
It has also tolerated — at least — a climate of intimidation. The offices of
several independent television channels were besieged for weeks by
supporters of a popular cleric. During demonstrations against Mr. Morsi’s
government, his Muslim Brotherhood supporters took to the streets and were
accused of targeting journalists; one was killed by a rubber bullet.
While calling for preservation of democratic freedoms in Egypt, the Obama
administration has been slow to take note of or respond to the attacks on
journalists. Officials say they are feeling their way with Mr. Morsi’s
government, trying to preserve cooperation on matters such as
counterterrorism. Yet the United States retains considerable leverage over
Egypt, including its influence over a pending International Monetary Fund
loan the government badly needs. That sway should be aimed at preserving
space for free media and a democratic opposition — which, in Cairo, is not
just a liberal good but a vital U.S. intere
+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 14 Jan.’13:”World Bank says Red-Dead project
feasible”, by Hana Namrouqa
SUBJECT: Red-Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Project
QUOTE:”Project . . . will have manageable social and environmental effects”
FULL TEXT: AMMAN — The Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Project is
feasible, according to a World Bank study, but it will have manageable
social and environmental effects.
The World Bank has posted the draft executive summaries of the economic
feasibility study, the environmental and social impact assessment and the
study of alternatives on its website in Arabic, English and Hebrew.
The Red-Dead project is part of international efforts to save the Dead Sea,
which has been shrinking at the rate of one metre per year, largely due to
the diversion of water from the Jordan River for agricultural and industrial
Initial plans for the Red-Dead project, which includes Jordan, Palestine and
Israel, propose pumping one billion cubic metres of water annually from the
Red Sea into the rapidly shrinking Dead Sea to stop its depletion.
Results of the studies, launched in 2008, indicated that six potential
Red-Dead project configurations have been considered based on three
alternative conveyance systems, including a tunnel alignment option, a
tunnel/canal alignment option and a pipeline alignment option.
While the tunnel option has advantages of operational energy saving and low
environmental impact, it has a number of “serious drawbacks”.
It lacks the flexibility to adapt to future changes, it is an extremely
challenging piece of engineering and construction, situated in a
tectonically disturbed region and it would be one of the longest tunnels on
Earth among other negative factors.
Meanwhile, the tunnel/canal option “does not appear to offer many advantages
over the gravity tunnel option”, according to the feasibility study, which
indicated that because the option lacks the conceptual advantage of being
driven by gravity, it will require substantial energy input and its
vulnerability to both natural and malicious contamination along the open
canal sections make it unviable.
The feasibility study indicated that “the pipeline option offers some
advantages when compared to the alternatives and is the least capital cost
solution. However, it has higher operating costs and a marginally higher
total net present value than alternative configurations”.
“Based on a weighted multi-criteria assessment process, the pipeline
conveyance combined with a high-level desalination plant is the recommended
“This configuration has the lowest total installed cost but the whole life
cycle net present costs are some 3.5 per cent higher than those for the
low-level gravity flow tunnel configuration,” the study recommended.
The estimated full capital cost of the recommended project configuration is
$9.97 billion, excluding the potable water transmission system to Israel and
Palestine, the study expected.
The economic feasibility study also indicated that the final report of the
Red Sea Modelling Study suggests a “go” decision for a 2,000 million cubic
metres per year extraction rate of Red Sea water, provided that the intake
is at the proposed eastern site and at a 140 to 160-metre-depth.
“Based on the results of the Red Sea Modelling Study, it is assessed that
the intake can be designed to minimise impact on the Red Sea environment to
acceptable levels, both during construction and during operations of the
system,” the report concluded.
The Dead Sea is the lowest spot on Earth — about 400 metres below sea level.
Its water is 10 times more saline than ocean water, making it one of the
saltiest water bodies in the world. The Dead Sea’s distinctive chemical
composition and fresh/salt water interface have created a unique ecology of
international importance, according to the World Bank.
The report indicated that some potential impact of mixing Red Sea water in
the Dead Sea, in particular the future frequency and magnitude of both red
algae blooms and whitening events due to precipitation of gypsum, have been
“The final report of the Dead Sea Modelling Study concluded that although it
is not possible to rule out the possibility of ‘whitening events’ due to the
introduction of Red Sea Water or rejected brine, this problem could be
mitigated by adding gypsum crystals at the discharge location allowing a
faster sedimentation of the precipitated gypsum,” the feasibility study
The report indicated that the onshore environmental and socio-economic
assessment does not identify any prohibitive impacts.
“It [the assessment] suggests that the impact of the pipeline conveyance
will be wider spread but less severe than those for either the tunnel or
tunnel and canal conveyance systems and that the impacts can be mitigated
and managed to an acceptable level,” the report anticipated.
However, the report warned that the greatest risk and cause for concern
regarding the project as articulated by many stakeholders is the risk of
leakage of seawater contaminating valuable groundwater resources.
“This is a very real risk and appropriate engineering solutions to minimise
the risk have been incorporated into the designs and cost estimates for all
conveyance systems considered,” the report showed.
The measures are based on a design to minimise the risk of leakage and shut
down the system in the event of major leakage, the report indicated.
The economic feasibility study concluded that all project configurations
studied in detail are technically and economically feasible.
“It is believed that the environmental and social impacts can be managed to
an acceptable level,” the report said.
The draft reports will be discussed in the next round of public
consultations that will be held starting in mid-February.
Exact dates and locations for the public consultations will be posted on the
website and advertised in local newspapers in the very near future, the
World Bank said on its website.
“Comments on the draft reports, either given in the public consultation
meetings or sent to the World Bank, will be reflected in the final version
of the reports which will be revised after the consultations are completed,”
according to the international organisation
+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 14 J an.’13:”EU to propose peace plan after Israel
vote –report”, Agence France Presse
SUBJECT: EU plan for Israel-Palestinian peace talks
QUOTE:”The European Union is drawing up a detailed new plan to restart
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks”
FULL TEXT:OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — The European Union is drawing up a detailed
new plan to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and expects to present
it after this month’s Israeli general election, Yediot Aharonot reported
Citing diplomatic sources in Jerusalem, Israel’s top-selling daily said the
plan was intended to “bring about the establishment of a Palestinian state
on the basis of the 1967 lines with
East Jerusalem as its capital.”[ICRA: There is no ‘East Jerusalem’; the city
area is eastern Jerusalem.]
The plan will include “clear timetables for the completion of the
negotiations on all the core issues in the course of 2013.”
The newspaper said the plan is expected to be presented around March, to
give time for the formation of a new Israeli government after the general
election on January 22.
The newspaper said the plan “apparently will also include a demand to freeze
all construction in the settlements.”
The report said the British and French foreign ministries are sponsoring the
initiative, which is also backed by Germany and could be adopted by the full
“There’s a lot in the works behind the scenes,” the newspaper quoted
high-ranking Israeli political officials as saying.
“The Europeans don’t have the capability to force an agreement on us, but
they definitely may embarrass us,” they added.
“It is reasonable to assume that the Palestinians will accept a document of
that sort, but Israel will be hard put to do so. That’s going to paint us
into a corner.”
Observers have long speculated that the international community would renew
its efforts to restart direct peace talks, on hold since late September
2010, after the Israeli election.
And on Saturday[12 Jan.], Israeli opposition candidate and former foreign
minister Tzipi Livni appeared to allude to the potential EU plan, warning
that “in March the world will put a peace plan on the table”.
“Either we can have it imposed upon us or we can initiate a plan of our
Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA