Diplomatic sources in Israel and Jordan familiar with the details of the recent meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan's King Abdullah says there was significant progress on two inter-related issues.
Firstly Jordan showed a willingness not to condition progress on economic and political issues with Israel on the Palestinian issue, as the countries that signed the Abraham Accords agreed and many years before that in the peace accord with Egypt.
The second topic that came up in the talks between the Israeli and Jordanian leaders was the promotion of the Green and Blue Prosperity Agreement signed between Israel, UAE and Jordan by the previous government. Sources familiar with the meeting told "Globes" that it was agreed that the two governments would speed up the implementation of both parts of the agreement.
In the first part of the agreement, which was signed in November 2021 by the Bennett government, it was agreed that Jordan would build huge solar fields to supply electricity to Israel. In exchange, Israel will build a large desalination plant on the Mediterranean to supply water to Jordan. The UAE will finance the projects through its energy and water companies.
Israel already sells water to Jordan at cost price as part of the agreements between the countries due to the severe water shortage in the Hashemite kingdom. According to the new agreement, Israel will sell Jordan 300 million cubic meters of desalinated water per year at a price of around NIS 500 million, while purchasing 600 megawatts of solar electricity from Jordan.
A senior UAE official expressed harsh criticism to "Globes" over Israeli bureaucracy, which has been delaying construction of the desalination plant. He said that among the proposals that were raised was the construction of the desalination plant on an artificial island, a proposal that demonstrated Israel's lack of seriousness on the issue. The cost of building a desalination plant is about $500 million, and the construction of the pipeline to Jordan would cost another $50-100 million.
In contrast, considerable progress has been made in Jordan and land has already been allocated to be used for the huge solar field. Israel's Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources dismisses the criticism and says progress has been made mainly since the appointment of a commissioner to lead the project.
In any event, Netanyahu has pledged to remove bureaucratic obstacles despite criticism of the agreement with Jordan from his right-wing coalition partners. National Security Council heads Tzachi Hanegbi together with Minister for Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Ron Dermer, the Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources and other ministries will be responsible for the project.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on January 30, 2023.
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