Physical Development in an Ecologically Sensitive Area: The Planning of the Dead Sea Region

  • Vanesa Sztankeler Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
  • Isaac A. Meir Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
  • Moshe Schwartz Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Keywords: Planning Process, Decision Making, Environmental Degradation, Master Plans, Ein Bokek Hotels, Defense Project


Both basins of the Dead Sea (DS) have been deeply damaged in the last 50 years by anthropogenic intrusion in its water balance. The northern basin is receding, together with the fresh water aquifers along its shores. This has led to the formation of sinkholes, subsidence areas and landslides, affecting wide coastal segments, and bringing development to a halt along the western DS shore. In the southern basin, the water level is rising, threatening the tourist-hotel area lying on its shores. This overview of planning and decision making in the last four decades shows that environmental degradation, conflict between industry and tourism, conservation versus development, water scarcity, unsustainable water and wastewater management have remained persistent problems. Coordination among agents of management and planning, missing for decades, is essential to cope with the problems of the DS region, which are expected to grow increasingly severe on both DS shores, in the absence of sustainable solutions. Critical decisions made recently have to be effectively implemented to avoid a catastrophe.


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