A recent news item about a large transport ship that twisted sideways during a windstorm and blocked the far too narrow Suez Canal, bottling up canal traffic for days, has resulted in suggestions from many sources that Israel dig a second canal, thereby taking the strain off the old canal and eliminating shipping problems created by its shallow, narrow width.
After more than a week of research my answer to that suggestion is: AMEN!
Why? For many reasons, all of which show that while it would take a while to build it, it is eminently doable, and the result would be of tremendous value to Israel, Egypt, and the entire world.
Let’s see why…
The Suez Canal is 120 miles long; a trans-Israel canal would run about 180 miles long, and its creators would not have the benefit of a preexisting waterway, which merely needed clearing out, as Ferdinand de Lesseps did 160 years ago when he dug out the bed of a canal created by the ancient Egyptians. Nor would the new canal merely cross a flat area, as the old canal does. It would wend its way through the lowlands near the border of Jordan until it reached Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba. However, the old canal was dug in the 1860’s, in the days before the gasoline engine was invented, and things are very different now, as clearly shown by things like the undersea car tunnel dug from Dover, England to Calais, France.
A trans-Israel canal would be very expensive, running round $55 billion. However, because it would be wider and deeper it could carry traffic that the old canal cannot carry. That ability will chop billions off the cost of shipping, resulting in lower prices around the world – and far better profits!
Just think: even though Saudi Arabia lies close to the southern end of the Suez Canal, only 2.5% of all global oil output passes through it, a fact which drives up the cost of gasoline and other oil products. Furthermore, the wider, deeper new canal would allow large new transports to safely use the short route, avoiding another “Ever-Given disaster” like the one we have just seen, and cutting shipping costs even more.
Nor will the new canal steal any of Egypt’s current business. With the larger, slower ships no longer slowing down traffic in the old canal, ships which now do not use it will do so, cutting their shipping costs as well.
So just what would the new canal cost? The best estimate is that it would run around $55 billion dollars. However, since the number of vessels using it would undoubtedly equal the current number passing through the old canal, which can handle only 50 ships a day, the new canal would pay for itself in just 10 years.
Another benefit of the canal will come from the creation of a ready source of seawater in the dry southern desert areas of Israel and Jordan. Combine that with Israel’s world-leading desalination techniques, and the deserts of southern Israel and Jordan will bloom, allowing citizens trapped in overcrowded northern cities to move south to newly blossoming hills and valleys.
Also: this comment, taken from an article in the Jerusalem Post, clinched it for me: “To show Israel’s willingness to work with her neighbor to the west, Egyptian representatives should be invited to sit on the new canal’s board.”
THAT, I think, says a lot for peace in the Middle East, doesn’t it?