Israel and Jordan inch closer to water-for-energy deal

Israel and Jordan inch closer to water-for-energy deal

The deal would create unprecedented interdependence between the two countries.

Last week, Israel and Jordan signed a letter of intent in Abu Dhabi for a so-called “water-for-energy” project, under which Jordan will build a massive solar farm in the desert that will generate clean energy to be sold to Israel in return for desalinated water.

The project has been many years in development after being initiated through the Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian environmental co-operation organisation Ecopeace.

“This is going to be the flagship example of bilateral relations and also of the Israeli integration into the region,” said Oded Eran, a senior research fellow at the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies and a former Israeli ambassador to Jordan.

The idea was first announced in 2021 when Jordan planned to export 600 megawatts of solar power from its southern desert to Israel. In return, Israel would provide the water-scarce kingdom with 200 million cubic meters of desalinated water from the Mediterranean.

“This clearly makes use of the energy advantages of Jordan and Israel in the sense of the proximity of quantities of water that can be made available by desalination on the Israeli side, and the large areas that can be used in Jordan to produce solar energy,” Eran explained.

It is expected that the agreement will be signed during the COP28 climate conference, which will be held in Dubai at the end of the year. The project will be funded by the United Arab Emirates.

Jordan, 75% of which is arid desert, faces an acute water deficit. The kingdom ranks as the second most water-poor country worldwide, where water per capita is 88% below the international water poverty line of 1000 cubic meters annually. With a population of 11 million, it has only enough water for 2 million.

But some environmentalists and political activists have criticised the plan because it increases Jordanian dependence on Israel and does not address the Palestinian refugee issue.

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Israel and Jordan inch closer to water-for-energy deal (Jerusalem Post)

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Photo: Green bushes separate salty dry soil and an irrigated field near the Azraq Basin in Jordan (IWMI)