Jordan denies dependence on Israel after controversial gas deal

Jordan denies dependence on Israel after controversial gas deal
Jordan's information minister has defended a recently-signed controversial deal to import gas from Israel, denying the accord would leave he Arab country reliant on Tel Aviv.
2 min read
03 October, 2016
The deal has sparked public outrage in Jordan [Anadolu]

Jordan has defended a controversial deal it signed last week to import natural gas from Israel, insisting the accord would not leave the Arab country reliant on Tel Aviv.

Information Minister Mohamed Momani, who is also government spokesperson, told Jordanian television on Monday that the deal would cut $600 million a year from the state's energy bill.

"We will not be dependent on Israel," he said.

Momani said the government was seeking to diversify its sources of gas supplies.

It was "too simplistic to say that sealing such a deal means the kingdom is supporting Israeli occupation", he said, referring to the occupied Palestinian territories.

The deal, which was signed on 26 September, has stirred public outrage among Jordanians, gathered outside the Grand Husseini Mosque in downtown Amman to on Friday to express their opposition.

The protest was called by trade unions and political parties opposed to the 1994 peace treaty between Israel and Jordan.

"This deal threatens our sovereignty and makes us all complicit in the Israeli occupation of Palestine," Alia Nusseibeh, who was at the protest, told The New Arab at the time.

"The aim is to show the government and the whole world that the average Jordanian citizen is completely against this gas deal".

The opposition Islamic Action Front, political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, has kept up its condemnation of the deal, charging the gas was "stolen from Palestinian waters".

Around half of Jordan's population come from Palestine, most coming during the 1967 war when Israel's occupation of the West Bank began.

Others protested against the deal by calls to switch off lights on Sunday, sharing photos of candles instead.

A US-led consortium leading the development of Israel's offshore gas reserves announced the deal to sell natural gas from its Leviathan field to Jordan.

US firm Noble Energy, the lead partner, said the contract with the National Electric Power Company of Jordan (NEPCO) was for 300 million cubic feet (8.5 million cubic metres) per day over a 15-year term.

Agencies contributed to this report.