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Bitter Water: Understanding the Jordan-Israel Water Disputes

6 Mar 2024 21:15

Islam Times - Water treaties have consistently sparked political tensions between the parties involved, serving as a permanent tool for the Zionist regime to uphold its dominance.

The emergence of a fully right-wing Netanyahu cabinet in 2022 has cooled relations between the Zionist regime and Jordan, while the Gaza war has exacerbated tensions between Tel Aviv and Amman.

Following months of verbal fighting between officials and the summoning of ambassadors from both sides, the diplomatic crisis is now yielding tangible consequences. Jordan's humanitarian aid flights to Gaza have not been unanswered and reports in Zionist media outlining Tel Aviv's degrading terms for renewing the water sales contract with Amman have come to light.

Israeli Channel Kan recently disclosed that Jordan, through various channels including the United States and Israeli Foreign Minister Katz (formerly the Energy Minister), has signaled interest in extending the water supply contract for another year. However, Tel Aviv has not yet responded to this request.

The channel indicated that the current contract, inked three years ago under the Bennett-Lapid coalition cabinet, is set to expire next May. According to this agreement, the Zionist regime committed to doubling annual water exports to Jordan from 50 million cubic meters, as stipulated in the peace agreement between the two sides, to 100 million cubic meters.

It's important to highlight that under the 1994 peace treaty, Israel is obligated to annually supply Jordan with 35 million cubic meters of water, alongside the seasonal storage in Lake Kinneret, which fluctuates yearly depending on rainfall.

Reported by the network's Arab correspondent, the Zionist regime's cabinet has recently initiated requests for intervention. These include measures to deter anti-Zionist remarks from Jordanian officials and to completely restore diplomatic relations between the two sides by reinstating ambassadors, as conditions for extending the agreement.

In terms of water, Jordan ranks as the second poorest country globally

Based on global water indicators, Jordan ranks as the second poorest nation worldwide concerning access to freshwater reserves, with an average annual water consumption of about 108 million cubic meters as per the 2019 budget. This challenge has reached its peak in recent years.

While the average American consumes more than 350 liters of water daily, a Jordanian's daily consumption is only 61 liters. Jordan's water scarcity currently reaches approximately half a billion cubic meters annually, influenced by various factors, including the impacts of climate change such as decreased rainfall and rising temperatures.

This index also places Jordan among the countries facing the highest water stress, as the stress is anticipated to worsen due to population growth and the resulting surge in water demand, alongside diminishing water resources.

A quarter-century of "Cold Peace"

Water agreements have consistently resulted in political tensions between both parties and have become a lasting tool for the Zionist government to assert its authority.

Upon signing the peace treaty in 1994, Amman and Tel Aviv marked Jordan as the second Arab nation, following Egypt in the late 1970s, to formalize relations with the occupying authority in al-Quds.

Water emerged as a pivotal negotiation point from the beginning, predominantly favoring the Zionist side as Israel holds sway over the majority of groundwater resources in the mountainous West Bank coastal region, courtesy of concessions outlined in the Oslo Accords.

Throughout this era, economic and security collaborations between the involved entities have led to notable agreements, including the natural gas pact, whereby Jordan procures natural gas extracted from the recently discovered Leviathan gas field along the coast of occupied Palestine.

However, during the same period, a series of disagreements emerged on security matters, such as the Zionist's attempted assassination of Khaled Mashal on Jordanian soil in 1997, followed by Amman's strong response, including the annulment of leases for Israeli farmers, casting a shadow over bilateral relations. The peak of tensions resurfaced during Donald Trump's presidency, as the White House's recognition of Beit al-Moghadas as Israel's capital encouraged the Zionist cabinet to challenge Jordan's historical role as the guardian of holy sites in Beit al-Moghadas.

The tensions reached their peak in the summer of 2020 when the Zionist regime deliberately announced its plans to annex illegal settlements in the West Bank, an action condemned by Jordanians as a complete derailment of peace prospects in the region. Tensions escalated to the extent that in early April of that year, the Zionist cabinet refrained from providing Jordan with an additional three million cubic meters of water.

Agreement of 2021: Water versus Electricity

The history of water cooperation between Jordan and the Zionist regime predates the 1994 agreement, stretching back to as early as 1921. During that year, Pinhas Rutenberg, a Russian-Jewish engineer, successfully persuaded British authorities and members of the Hashemite dynasty to construct a hydroelectric power plant at the junction of the Yarmouk River and the Jordan River.

This cooperation persisted even after the establishment of the Zionist regime in 1948. Moreover, in the mid-1950s, Israel and Jordan engaged in negotiations regarding water cooperation, facilitated by the United States and the United Nations, which was later reflected in the 1994 peace accord.

However, discussions surrounding the 2021 agreement arose during a pivotal moment on April 22, 2021, during a virtual climate summit convened by the United States. It was then that Benjamin Netanyahu, the former Prime Minister of the regime, unveiled ambitious objectives aimed at generating 30% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and achieving zero carbon emissions by 2050.

In response, the Ministry of Energy of the Zionist regime proposed a series of initiatives to realize these objectives, placing particular emphasis on energy collaboration with neighboring countries, notably Jordan.

In reality, the Zionists encountered significant hurdles in realizing their aspirations in renewable energy, including challenges such as a scarcity of suitable land for solar installations, limited storage technology, and various regulatory constraints.

As a result, the Zionists looked towards Jordan to secure ample and cost-free land for the establishment of large-scale solar energy facilities. Jordan, apart from maintaining formal relations with the regime (unlike its other neighbors), boasts extensive desert regions with sparse population density, making it an ideal environment for solar energy generation. Moreover, Jordan's geographical location exposes it to some of the highest levels of sunlight globally, and the affordability of renewable energy production in Jordan is enhanced by lower land costs and minimal labor expenses.

This necessity prompted Jordan and the Zionist regime to enter into a declaration in 2021, facilitated and mediated by the UAE, to commence discussions on the feasibility of a collaborative initiative titled the "Energy-Water Exchange Feasibility Study."

The objective of this endeavor, known as Project Prosperity, aims to supply Israel with 600 megawatts of solar energy in exchange for 200 million cubic meters of desalinated water provided to Jordan.

The agreement specifies that Jordan will annually export around 600 megawatts of solar-generated electricity to Israel in exchange for receiving 200 million cubic meters of desalinated water. A notable aspect of this deal is that Abu Dhabi, facilitated by the technical involvement of "Masdar," a renewable energy specialist, and with an annual contribution of $180 million from Tel Aviv, will financially support the establishment of new solar energy facilities in Jordan.

Israel fulfills Jordan's water requirements through its ownership of five major desalination plants and nearly 30 smaller facilities, collectively producing over 700 million cubic meters of desalinated water.

In response, Jordanians expressed their discontent with the new agreement between the government and the Zionists through widespread protests, citing concerns that, as in the 1994 agreement, the Zionists were able to gain more water concessions from Jordan.

Nonetheless, the Jordanian government is working hard to persuade the public of the inevitability of this agreement, particularly as the water crisis is evolving into a strategic imperative for the kingdom.

The government contends that importing water from Israel is more effective than investing in desalination infrastructure and plants. This is because Jordan's limited coastline on the Red Sea in Aqaba, located to the south of the country, is distant from its population centers, whereas Israel's Mediterranean coast, west of Jordan, is closer, resulting in lower overall costs. However, Jordanian policymakers must now confront the reality of their country being subject to the influence of Zionist forces, which have demonstrated a willingness to exploit Jordan's water needs as leverage in contentious issues.

Story Code: 1120830

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