Here’s some good news to those of you who’ve been following the vote in the Jordanian parliament on Wednesday, to demand that King Abdullah expel the Israeli envoy scrap the peace treaty with Israel.
That treaty, signed back in 1994 on the White House lawn, by his Majesty, the late King Hussein of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister, the late Yitzhak Rabin, with U.S. President Bill Clinton watching – that treaty regulates the use of regional water by both countries. It’s all in Article 6 of the treaty, which is bigger than all the rest of the 30 articles put together.
The reason is simple: much of the water—just about all of it, really—alongside the border between the two countries happens to be in Israeli territory. Without that water, Jordan goes back to being the proud desert country it’s always been, which is fine if you’re Bedouin, but not so great if you’re a farmer.
Here’s what can happen, should Jordan decide to scrap its peace treaty with Israel: it would have to do without the following items:
Israel accepted responsibility for operating, supplying and maintaining systems on Israeli territory that supply Jordan with water.
In the summer, May 15 to October 15 of each year, Israel agreed to transfer 20 million cubic meters from the Jordan River directly upstream from Deganya gates.
In the winter, October 16 to May 14 of each year, Jordan is entitled to a minimum average of 20 million cubic meters of the floods in the Jordan River south of the Yarmouk. Unusable excess floods that would otherwise be unused, including pumped storage, can also be taken by Jordan.
In addition, Israel agreed to share the Yarmouk River with Jordan. Anything above 12 million cubic meters in the summer and 13 million in winter goes to Jordan.
When you hear about the Kinneret water going below all kinds of red lines? It’s because they’re being diverted north of the lake, at a rate of up to 50 million cubic meters a year.
OK, that was the deal, we wanted a peace treaty and that’s what we had to pay for it. The fact is that Israel’s relations with Jordan are a whole lot warmer than with Egypt—until the Arab Spring thing hits Amman, of course.
But now the Jordanian parliament—which is largely Palestinian, incidentally—has reacted to the fact that Israel, in an unprecedented display of courage, decided to detain the Jerusalem Mufti for his blatant preaching of violence against the Jews. If the Israelis don’t let our holy guy preach murder, we’re scrapping the treaty.
The treaty that’s the life blood of Jordan’s economy—in addition to supplying Jordan with much of its water, much of Jordan’s industry is owned by Israeli tycoons, who relocated factories from Israel, where organized Jewish workers used to burden them with demands for benefits and realistic wages—to Jordan, where a working man gets a pitta and a couple of onions which he shares with his family of 15.
Now, what did Israel just do, following the Jordanian parliament’s threat to call it quits?
Oded Eran, Israel’s ambassador to Jordan, was interviewed on Reshet Bet Thursday morning, and he said that Israel has increased the amount of water it diverts to the Hashamite kingdom, in order to accommodate the numerous refugees flooding Jordan from Syria.
Talk about doing the decent Christian thing…
Or treasonous. Potato-potato.
Ambassador Eran also said Israel also allows Jordan to export its goods to the West through the port of Haifa.
The benefits of peace.
So the host, Ya’akov Achi-Meir, asked him how that sits with the recommendation of the Jordanian parliament to kick him out of the country, and the ambassador answered that once the peace process with the Palestinians is on its way, things in Jordan would calm down.
According to Ambassador Eran, the Jordanian government is on very friendly terms with Israel, it’s only the vast population that wants all of us dead.
Now, here’s the zinger: according to Reshet Bet, Israeli sources have said that Israel has increased the amount of water it transfers to Jordan and the Palestinian Authority recently regardless of the increase in the number of refugees from Syria in Jordan.