Israel, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are due to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) today to accelerate implementation of a project involving water in exchange for electricity that was agreed exactly a year ago. The MOU will be signed at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) at Sharm El Sheikh. Israel will be represented by Minister of Regional Cooperation Issawi Frej, who in the outgoing government has stood out for his work in promoting Israel’s relations with Egypt and Jordan, with which the country has longstanding peace agreements, and with the countries that are signatories to the more recent Abraham Accords. For Jordan, the MOU will be signed by the former Minister of Water and Irrigation Mohammed Al Najjar, who signed the agreement a year ago, while the UAE will be represented by Minister of Climate Change and Environment Mariam Almheiri.
Sources inform "Globes" that in the MOU the parties commit to expediting the various stages of the project, which involves the construction of a huge solar energy farm in the Jordanian desert and of a desalination plant on the coast of northern Israel. They undertake to report on progress at a conference in the UAE within one year.
The MOU strengthens the link between solar energy from Jordan and desalinated water from Israel, a link that in the past Israel had sought to restrict. The signing of the MOU at this juncture is intended to give the project a push after many delays in the past year, and also as a kind of declaration of intent by the UAE and Jordan to the new government in Israel concerning the continuation of the trilateral project which expresses the substance of the Abraham Accords.
Does the MOU bind incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government? Not necessarily. It represents the continuation of the agreement signed a year ago, an agreement in the realization of which Israel has a substantial interest, in order to strengthen the Abraham Accords and ties with the UAE, and to create another lever for improving relations with Jordan.
The UAE sees the electricity-for-water agreement as important, and it will be expected there that Netanyahu will continue with it. Egypt, where the signing is due to take place, is also involved, and sees this agreement as opening up the possibility of a similar agreement with it as well. Speaking in the Knesset yesterday, Netanyahu stressed the need to strengthen ties with countries of the region and to expand the Abraham Accords. Nevertheless, the signing of such an MOU in the last days of the Lapid government is a little questionable, even if the timing of the climate conference in Sharm El Sheikh creates a good opportunity for it.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 7, 2022.
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