Israel, Jordan, UAE to Sign Solar Power, Desalinization Deal

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Jordan's King Abdullah II speaks during a meeting with a tribal leader in Al-Qasta, south of Amman, Jordan, October, 21, 2021.
Jordan's King Abdullah II speaks during a meeting with a tribal leader in Al-Qasta, south of Amman, Jordan, October, 21, 2021. Credit: Yousef Allan/AP

Israel is expected to sign a deal with Jordan that will include solar energy production in Jordan for the Israeli market, which would reciprocate by desalinating Mediterranean water for supply to Jordan.

The deal is brokered by the United Arab Emirates and the United States. Israel's Energy Ministry said that the countries would sign a joint declaration next week.

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The scope of the deal is unknown, but a source said it would be "very significant" and emphasized that it would be mutually beneficial, not a gift to Jordan.

The solar power will be generated at a solar farm providing service only to Israel, without being connected to Jordan's power grid, the source said. 

The signing is set to take place in the United Arab Emirates on Monday with the participation of Energy Minister Karine Elharrar, Jordanian Water Minister Mohammed Al-Najjar, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry, and Emirati climate envoy Sultan Al Jaber.  

Thus far, Israel has not met its goal for 2020 of having 10 percent of the country's electricity come from renewable energies. Last year, less than six percent of power generated in Israel was from renewable energies, with the number expected to approach nine percent this year. A central challenge in increasing renewable energy production is a lack of open spaces that be used as solar farms, as the Israel Lands Authority opposes the use of large areas for this purpose. 

Solar panels from the Ashalim Power Station in the Negev desert in 2019.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Jordan is experiencing a severe water crisis, as climate change has contributed to the depletion of the country's water reserves. According to official Jordanian figures, the average resident uses 61 liters of water a day. In comparison, the average amount of water used by each resident is 350 liters.

In July, Jordan and Israel announced a plan to purchase an additional 50 million cubic meters of water from Israel and increase its exports to the West Bank from $160 million a year to around $700 million.

The agreements, concluded during a meeting between the countries' foreign ministers at the King Hussein Bridge between Jordan and the West Bank, signaled improved relations between Jordan and Israel's new government following years of strained ties under former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Jordan's Ayman Safadi's agreement to increase Jordanian exports to the West Bank was in line with the Paris Protocol, an economic agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

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