The Jerusalem Post
Bennett makes ‘game-changing’ water overture to Jordan
Israel to sell 50m. cubic meters to Amman • Moment for healthier joint political environment, says expert
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has made an overture to Jordan and gave his initial agreement to the sale of 50 million cubic meters of water for the parched country that is host to millions of refugees.
The story was reported by Hebrew website Ynet and has been confirmed by
This would be the largest such sale of water since the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty, which provides for an automatic allocation of 55 million cubic meters of water on an annual basis at three cents per cubic meter.
“Israel has never sold such large quantities of water to Jordan,” said the Israel director of EcoPeace Middle East, Gideon Bromberg, who has long been involved in regional water issues.
“It’s a reflection of a potential game changer” moment that has occurred, where both sides now have an opportunity to create a healthier joint political environment, he said.
The water sale offer comes shortly after Bennett took office and ahead of separate trips both he and Jordan’s King Abdullah plan to make to Washington this summer for their first independent meetings with US President Joe Biden.
Jordan had asked for an annual allocation of 50 million cubic meters for five years, but Bennett gave initial approval only through 2022.
After that, the request would have to be reviewed based, in part, on the water levels in the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret), which at present permit such a water sale.
The Hashemite Kingdom approached Bennett with the request to buy water through the Israel-Jordan Joint Water Committee.
Israel’s Energy Ministry said the deal was still under discussion and that final approval would likely be given next week.
The amount Amman will pay is still unknown. Past sales, such as the expansion of the annual water allocation by 10 million cubic meters in 2010, and the three million cu.m. allocation to Jordan in April of this year, placed the price at 40 cents per cu.m.
Relations with Jordan, one of Israel’s key strategic regional partners, were tense during the 12-year tenure of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Water has often been viewed as an issue where Israel could repair some of that damage, particularly given its desalination technology. Netanyahu had dragged his feet on approving Jordan’s three million cu.m. request following tensions between his government and the kingdom.
“Israel and Jordan need to improve their relations and water and energy issues can be at the heart of repairing the damage,” Bromberg said.
Water could be at the heart of a number of joint initiatives, he said, including the rehabilitation of the Jordan River into a national water carrier for both neighbors.
Jordan is facing a severe water shortage that is threatening to destabilize the monarchy, Bromberg said.
Bennett’s willingness to help is a sign that he understands Jordan’s strategic importance to Israel, he added.