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Israel and Jordan Sign Agreement to Push Ahead with Water for Solar Energy Project

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Brine water flows into the Mediterranean Sea after passing through a desalination plant in the coastal city of Hadera, Israel, May 16, 2010. Photo: Reuters / Nir Elias / File.

Israel and Jordan signed an agreement Tuesday to forge ahead with a US-backed water-for-energy deal as the two countries seek to capitalize on each other’s natural resources and advanced technologies.

The regional project brokered by the United Arab Emirates will see Israel providing desalinated water to Jordan. In exchange, the Hashemite Kingdom will export clean energy from a local solar power plant to the Jewish state.

In the presence of US Envoy for Climate John Kerry, the agreement was signed between Israel’s Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej and ministerial representatives from Jordan and the UAE at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP 27, held in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt.

Signing off on the advancement of the project comes as Israel is in transition period forming a new government following last week’s elections.

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“We are leaving the next government a legacy of cross-border regional cooperation that creates hope for the entire region, as the countries join together to promote the optimal utilization of natural resources,” said Frej. “This legacy of action proves the power of peace.”

The regional project was first initiated a year ago as the two partners signed a declaration of intent to start feasibility studies regarding the construction of a solar power plant by the UAE in Jordan as well as the needed infrastructure in Israel to desalinate water from the Mediterranean Sea. In recent years, Israel has emerged as a leader in sustainable water management with decades of experience in desalination.

The deal would allow water-scarce Jordan to receive an annual 200 million cubic meter of desalinated water from Israel, and in turn the latter would draw at least 600 megawatts of clean energy from a solar power plant in Jordan.

Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994, while the UAE in 2020 became the first Arab country to normalize relations with Israel under the so-called Abraham Accords. After the water-for-energy deal was first announced back in November last year, it aroused anti-Israel sentiment taking several thousand Jordanians to the streets of Amman in protest of the project.

Israel’s Energy Minister Karine Elharrar thanked her partners in Jordan, the UAE and the US for their cooperation adding that the project is “opening a new page in relations between Israel and Jordan.”

“The work undertaken since then in order to bring about the implementation of the project, has stepped up the relationship of trust between the countries with the understanding that joint action against the effects of the climate crisis benefits the citizens of the region, and creates geopolitical, economic, and environmental opportunities,” Elharrar stated. “I have every hope that the emerging government will adopt the project that I led and will not let any obstacle hinder its implementation, because it is a good project for all parties regardless of political opinions.”

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