Photo Credit: Ehud Amiton/TPS
Off-shore Gas drilling rig Leviathan, in the Mediterranean Sea, 130 kilometres (81 mi) west of Haifa. Dor, Dec 23, 2019.

Jordanian Members of Parliament (MP) are pushing for an urgent legislative initiative to repeal the agreement in which Israel will supply gas to the Hashemite Kingdom, ahead of the soon-to-be-launched natural gas pipeline between the two countries.

A group of 58 MPs opposing the import of natural gas from Israel have signed a memorandum calling for urgent legislation to ban the implementation of the gas agreement between Israel and Jordan through the American Noble Energy Company.

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This initiative comes in light of the announcement by Jordan’s National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) that gas pumping experiments will soon begin on the new line, which installment ended recently and through which natural gas will flow from the Israeli Leviathan offshore field to the electric company’s facilities.

The MPs claim that the agreement is not an economic one but a step with far-reaching political implications that consists of a normalization of relations between the two countries, and therefore NEPCO does not have the authority to sign such an agreement without a discussion in parliament.

Officials in Jordan further claim that the US ambassador to the Kingdom pressured NEPCO into signing the agreement with Noble Energy without bringing it to Parliament for a preliminary hearing, working on the assumption that it would not have been approved there.

The electric company and the government in Jordan are now facing severe criticism on social networks and are being accused of hiding information from the public, disguising the fact that the gas comes from Israel and even betraying the Jordanian people.

Jordanian activists have launched a number of campaigns against the gas agreement with Israel, which they view as “forcing from above the normalization of prohibited relations with Israel.” The activists claim that the gas is stolen from the Palestinians by Israel and is now being sold to Jordan through US companies, with the government’s deliberate attempt to hide the fact that it comes from Israel.

Social activists in Jordan claim that the gas purchase agreement is like a “Jordanian Nakba,” catastrophe in Arabic and a term used by the Palestinians to describe Israel’s independence, which is expected to enslave Jordan to Israel and “give the Zionists leverage,” along with the fact that the resulting economic gains will serve Israel’s economy and “Zionist occupation and terrorism.”

Posters that read “The Enemy’s Gas – Occupation” and “Cancel the Gas Agreement ” have been distributed on dozens of social media pages and accounts across Jordan in recent days in opposition to laying an Israeli line on Jordanian soil. It should be noted that in the past, anti-Israel boycott organizations led the boycott of the gas deal between Israel and Jordan, claiming that tax profits would allow Israel to arm itself with advanced weapons against the Palestinians.

The activists are also calling on Egyptian citizens to act to cancel the agreement so that Jordan can purchase gas from Arab sources, such as Egypt, Algeria and Iraq. Jordan claims that when it signed the agreement, Egyptian gas was not available for export.

The agreement was signed in 2016 for 15 years, during which Noble Energy will provide 45 billion cubic meters worth $10 billion. NEPCO says it will save Jordan $300 and that its repeal will result in huge fines of $1.4 billion.

Senior energy officials told TPS that the agreement between Israel and Jordan is the best for Jordan’s economy out of a range of options and, at the same time, it guarantees Jordan’s security of gas supply on Israel’s part. The gas pipeline passes through Jordan for about 40 km and connects to the pan-Arab pipeline in Jordan, which was previously connected to Syria.

According to the experts, it is clear that this is a top-notch Jordanian economic interest, and that is why Jordan will have to decide between the economic interest and the protest over its engagement with the Israeli gas field.

Ayman Khuniti, a Jordanian commentator on Israeli affairs, told TPS that this issue has been going on for too long due to communication shortfalls between the government and parliament.

Now, he says, MPs are seeking to find out who is the mediator between Noble Energy and the government and the Jordanian electric company, who will be responsible for paying the expected fines from canceling the agreement, who paid for the land expropriation on which the pipeline was placed.

Khuniti estimates that this could develop into another crisis between Israel and Jordan, as relations have been extremely fragile since in any case.

According to him, the opponents of the gas agreement include not only the Muslim Brotherhood but political activists from different streams, social activists and members of various parties, and the social networks reflect the negative mood on Jordanian street well.

Noble Energy said it did not wish to comment on the report.

The Jordanian MPs did not discuss rejecting the free water they receive from Israel every year.

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