Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu blasted Monday Prime Minister Naftali Bennett over his secret meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah earlier this month, saying that "when Bennett gives water, Abdullah gives oil to Iran."
Jordan and Israel announced Thursday that Amman will 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.
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Speaking in a Likud faction meeting at the Knesset, Netanyahu said that “It’s very important, but he apparently didn’t understand that when he gives water, Abdullah gives oil to Iran,” Netanyahu said.
“Abdullah, I regret, agreed to transport oil from Iraq, which is controlled by Iran, through Jordan – to Egypt – and thus provide Iran enormous economic power to develop its economy and mainly its nuclear program, its plan of conquest and its terrorist activities.”
Netanyahu added that Bennett’s “weak” government does not “stand up to Iran’s nuclear program” and derided it for telling “the United States that it won’t conduct ‘surprise’ operations.”
Bennett’s meeting with King Abdullah, in which they agreed to turn over a new leaf in their diplomatic relations, was the first such summit after years of strained ties between the two countries.
According to sources, the meeting was intended for “coordination and updates ahead of important diplomatic meetings,” including with Israeli and American officials.
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In March, a planned visit to the Temple Mount by Jordan’s crown prince was canceled due to a dispute over security arrangements. Jordan retaliated by impeding a planned flight to the United Arab Emirates by then-Prime Minister Netanyahu, ultimately forcing Netanyahu to cancel the trip. The Israeli prime minister then retaliated by ordering Israel’s airspace closed to Jordanian flights, though Israel’s aviation authorities delayed implementing the order until it was eventually retracted, so no flights were actually affected.
Another reason for the tension was Israel’s withdrawal from a project to build a canal between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea that was supposed to alleviate Jordan’s severe water shortage. “The project is economically unfeasible, but Israel is currently exploring a variety of alternative solutions to ease Jordan’s distress,” a diplomatic source said, adding that Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s agreement to sell the extra 50 million cubic meters was a signal of this intent to help.