Protesters in Jordan’s capital, Amman, took to the streets yet again over the weekend, voicing their objections to a 10-billion-dollar gas-deal that the Hashemite Kingdom recently signed with its Western-neighbor, Israel. The deal, which will supply some 1.6 trillion feet of gas to Jordan’s National Electric Power Company, marks a significant step forward in Israel’s efforts to exploit its offshore gas reserves, although it is still looking for additional partnerships with both Turkey and Egypt, which would give Jerusalem far more export volume and the possibility of linking up with European markets. The gas will come from Israel’s Leviathan natural gas field, located in the Mediterranean, which is owned by a joint American-Israeli group. Even though the Jordanian National Power company signed the gas agreement with the American part of the Leviathan group to avoid public scrutiny, Jordanian protesters accuse their government of acting on political considerations rather than national interests. “We are here against the gas agreement, because it is a pure political (deal) it is not in the interest of the Jordanian people and not economically. We are buying gas that no one else is buying, and we are losing with this.” Ghaith, Jordanian protester said.
“The gas of our enemy is occupation. This deal does not serve our national interest, it is not a strategic decision or an economic one. This deal is purely political and its goal is to bring us closer and normalizing relations with this criminal entity. There is no way we will accept this, our only request to our government is to cancel the deal,” Abdelmajid Dandis, Jordanian Protester said.
While Israel and Jordan signed a peace agreement in 1994, relations are not always good between the two countries, but as economic ties deepen, Israel hopes they will improve – a hope voiced often by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who plays up Israel’s potential as an economic partner with Sunni Arab countries in the region. In that respect, the gas-deal with Jordan represents a breakthrough. Nevertheless, it is important to note that more than half of Jordan’s population of 9.5 million are of Palestinian roots.