The US-brokered deal will see Jordan export solar power to Israel in exchange for desalinated water.
Israel and Jordan signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Tuesday to promote water and energy agreements during Cop27 in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. The deal, originally struck by the two countries last November, called for Jordan to build a solar power plant that could export 600 megawatts of energy to Israel.
In turn, Israel will supply Jordan with 200 million cubic meters of desalinated water. The United Arab Emirates, which joined the US in supporting the plan, led the signing ceremony, which was attended by the UAE‘s special climate envoy and industry minister, Sultan Ahmed Jaber, and US special climate envoy John Kerry.
The UAE state-owned company Masdar plans to build a solar farm in Jordan. Once operational, the plant will produce 2 percent of Israel’s energy by 2030. Israel will pay the Jordanian government and Emirati companies $180 million a year.
This is the first such agreement between Israel and Jordan. Although the two countries established formal diplomatic relations in 1994 and engage in security and economic matters, their relationship is largely outside the public sphere. Cooperation with Israel has historically drawn widespread opposition in Jordan, a country of 10 million people and about 3 million Palestinians.
On the other hand, the UAE has openly established ties with Israel, including civilian activities such as tourism. The oil-rich country normalized relations with Israel in 2020 as part of the US-brokered Abraham deal.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is one of the water-scarce countries. According to the terms of the 1994 peace agreement, Amman has received 55 million cubic meters of water from Israel.
The MoU comes as Abu Dhabi plans to position itself for next year’s Cop28 in the UAE. The United Arab Emirates is one of the world’s largest investors in green energy and already has the world’s largest solar park in one location. Last week, the United Arab Emirates and the United States signed a strategic partnership to invest $100 billion to develop 100 gigawatts of clean energy by 2035.
Jordanians against the deal
When news of the deal spread, many Jordanians publicly voiced their opposition to the deal on social media.
“The Zionists stole our gas and sold it at preposterous prices to generate electricity… Then we supply them with electricity…to give us the water they stole from us…normalization is treason, regardless of his status and position, anything that involves us in such transactions. Your people are traitors,” tweeted social media user Valīds Oleimats.
Others believe the deal is aimed at creating the “right environment” to force the Jordanians to accept relations with Israel as a step towards implementing former US President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.