Hundreds protest in Jordan towards water-energy take care of Israel

Amman, Jordan – Hundreds of individuals have gathered within the Jordanian capital, Amman, to protest towards a water-for-energy settlement between Jordan and Israel.

The settlement, if carried out, can be one of many largest cooperation initiatives for the reason that nations signed a peace deal 27 years in the past.

Under the deal, Jordan would obtain 200 million cubic meters (7.06 billion cubic ft) of desalinated water from Israel, in return for 600 megawatts of electrical energy generated from a UAE-funded photo voltaic vitality plant in Jordan.

Jordanians on the protest on Friday rejected the settlement, saying it moved in direction of normalising ties with Israel whereas it continues to occupy the Palestinian territories. Opponents additionally warned that the deal would pressure Jordan to be depending on its neighbour.

“We have the right to live; Palestinians have the right to live,” Nasreen, a protester, instructed Al Jazeera. “We, Jordanians, support Palestine, and we care about Jordan, that is why we are here today.”

Nasreen held a poster made by her three kids. “It’s about being HUMAN,” the poster learn.

The mission’s “declaration of intent” was signed on Monday in Dubai by Jordan’s water minister, Israel’s vitality minister, and the UAE’s local weather change minister, within the presence of US Climate Envoy John Kerry.

“We don’t trust the occupation,” Jordanian Member of Parliament Saleh al-Armouti instructed Al Jazeera, referring to Israel. “If the Israeli occupation signs an agreement, usually they don’t do what is stated.”

Jordan protest 3 [Hanna Davis/Al Jazeera]The settlement, if carried out, can be one of many largest cooperation initiatives since Jordan and Israel signed a peace deal [Hanna Davis/Al Jazeera]

Water Scarcity

The settlement intends to deal with Jordan’s dire want for water and Israel’s purpose to increase its renewable vitality combine.

Israel has drastically elevated its capability for water desalination and Jordan has huge desert areas appropriate for photo voltaic vitality farms.

Jordan’s Water Ministry spokesperson Omar Salameh mentioned in a press release that the mission’s thought stems from Jordan’s rising demand for everlasting water sources, exacerbated by the dominion’s inhabitants development over the past a number of years.

Jordan is at the moment the second-most water-scare nation on the earth, in line with UNICEF. Its per-capita water provide is predicted to be halved by the tip of the century, in line with a current Laboratory News report.

The imaginative and prescient for the mission originated in 2015 from EcoPeace Middle East, a regional environmental NGO.

“We really need to now focus on combating climate change together,” Jordan’s EcoPeace Director Yana Abu Taleb instructed Al Jazeera.

“We need to rebuild healthy interdependencies. We need to look at projects of cooperation like this, for the benefit of our people, to meet the terrible water situation that we are in as a country right now,” she acknowledged.

Environmental advantages or political positive factors?

“The agreement isn’t about water, it’s about a political decision,” al-Armouti mentioned.

The head of Jordan’s Environmental Union Omar Sushan mentioned that the deal was “a political project”.

“You cannot justify this project from climate change; this is a normalisation project,” he instructed Al Jazeera.

“We need to strengthen our national water network, build public awareness about water management, and use new methods of irrigation in Jordan. This is our strategic option. We cannot rely on Israel,” Sushan mentioned.

Rund Awwad, an engineer specialising in renewable energies and vitality coverage in Jordan, mentioned, “I don’t see this agreement ticking any boxes to achieve energy and water security … This is more of a political deal, it’s not about the feasibility or the strategy.”

Awwad pointed to the various “hidden and indirect risks” concerned with the development of an enormous photo voltaic vitality discipline.

The mission will use a “huge amount” of Jordanian land, she acknowledged. “I’d rather use [the land] for strategic projects that would benefit Jordan.”

She additionally famous that the 200 million cubic meters to be supplied to Jordan beneath the deal is a “very modest number compared to the capacity of water resources in Jordan”.

Awwad mentioned that there are lots of different, extra sustainable and efficient strategies to deal with Jordan’s water shortage.

For occasion, local weather funding could possibly be used to improve the dominion’s water storage capability or to construct Jordan’s Red Sea desalination mission, generally known as the National Water Carrier Project, she added.

Jordan’s Water Ministry introduced plans to implement the National Water Carrier Project in 2021, which would offer about 300 million cubic meters (10.6 billion cubic ft) of desalinated water from the shores of the Red Sea in Aqaba. However, the mission has an estimated value of about two billion dinars ($2.8bn) and has confronted current funding pitfalls.

Jawad al-Anani, Jordan’s former deputy prime minister for financial affairs, mentioned that the feasibility of the National Water Carrier Project is “extremely low” and it is going to be “extremely costly”.

Al-Anani referenced the potential advantages from an Israel-Jordan water-for-energy deal. “From a resource standpoint, it seems like a very good idea,” he instructed Al Jazeera.

He pointed to the deal’s potential to assist a higher “economic balance” between Israel and Jordan: “The exchange gives assurances that if Israel, for any political reason in the future, decides to stop providing Israel with gas or with water, then Jordan has the leverage to reciprocate.”

However, others query if 600 megawatts of electrical energy, from a UAE-funded plant, would really present Jordan with this leverage.

The UAE and Israel signed the Abraham Accords in September 2020, which solidified their financial cooperation and has since facilitated a number of billion-dollar offers between the 2 nations.

“It (the solar plant) is funded by the Emirates to support the Israeli occupation. They want to make Israel an economic reference point in the Middle East,” al-Armouti mentioned.

Also commenting on the UAE’s determination to fund the photo voltaic plant, Duried Mahasneh, chair of EDAMA, an environmental NGO in Jordan, mentioned: “I understand the goodwill of the Emirates by [helping] supply water to Jordan, but I wish this was through the enhancement of desalination in Aqaba, not on the Israeli shores.”

He added that whereas the Aqaba desalination mission is expensive, it might make use of Jordanians.

“It’s also political and environmental sustainability that counts,” he instructed Al Jazeera.

Mahasneh, who was additionally the co-chair of the Joint Water Committee of Jordan and Israel, famous Jordan’s rocky historical past of water offers with Israel.

He referenced a dispute in 1999, the place Israel refused to offer Jordan with 25 million cubic meters (882.9 million cubic ft) of water, and former Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s refusal to provide Jordan with eight million cubic meters (282.5 million cubic ft) of water two years in the past.

“It is more secure for Jordan to get desalinated water for drinking purposes … from Jordan, rather than Israel,” he mentioned.

Jordan protests 2 [Hanna Davis/Al Jazeera]Protesters took to the streets in downtown Amman to rally towards the settlement [Hanna Davis/Al Jazeera]

Al-Armouti emphasised that the settlement ought to have been introduced to Parliament, “They should have presented it before, but until now, nothing has been presented.”

He pointed to Article 33 of Jordan’s structure, which states that any settlement which entails monetary commitments to the Treasury just isn’t legitimate until authorized by the National Assembly.

There have been lingering fears that the current settlement shall be dealt with equally to the 2016 gasoline deal, wherein Jordan’s National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) entered a 15-year settlement with Noble Energy to purchase billions of {dollars} of pure gasoline from Israel.

In 2019, Jordan’s Constitutional Court dominated that the gasoline deal didn’t want Parliament’s approval, given the corporate was totally owned by the federal government and thus not an official public establishment nor topic to public discretion.

Several lawmakers on Wednesday known as for an “urgent” public debate to debate the declaration of intent doc.

“If people contest it (the recent agreement) and there isn’t popular support,” mentioned Jawad Al-Anani, “Then the question is, what is the use of political reform if you aren’t going to abide by the will of the people?”

Jordan’s Water Ministry spokesperson was clear to notice in a press release that the declaration is “not a technical or legal agreement”.

Jordan’s Water Minister Mohammad al-Najjar mentioned throughout a information convention that feasibility research for the water-for-energy mission will start in 2022.

Al-Najjar added that if the mission is decided possible they “will enter into negotiations to sign agreements and will not sign any agreement in any way, until we announce it to Parliament, notables, citizens and all the press and media”.