Jordan Capitulating to Israel With Gas Deal, Protesters Say

Protest leaders are calling on the Jordanian public to turn off the lights in their homes for an hour in objection to an agreement to import gas from what they call 'occupied territory.'

Offshore Leviathan natural gas drilling site.
Albatross

Jordanian opposition groups are organizing a protest on Monday to protest a deal recently signed between the nation's electric company and the owners of an Israeli gas field to purchase natural gas. Organizers are calling upon Jordanians to shut off the lights in their homes between 9 and 10 P.M.

Critics of the deal delayed the signing of the contract, arguing that it was a capitulation to Israel, as the gas to be imported into Jordan is produced in "occupied territory."

The government in Amman has defended the contract on the grounds that it is essential to the country’s energy economy and that the principles of the contract were established back in the 1994 peace agreement with Israel.

Information Minister Mohamed Momani told Jordanian TV on Monday that the agreement would cut $600 million a year from the Jordan's energy bill.

"We will not be dependent on Israel," Momani said. "It was too simplistic to say that sealing such a deal means the kingdom is supporting Israeli occupation." 

At this stage the protest is relatively small, and it does not seem that it will lead to a change in government policy.

Last week, the partners in the Leviathan gas field, headed by Noble Energy, reported the signing of the contract with the Jordanian power company, two years after the sides signed a memorandum of understandings on gas export. Jordan will buy 45 billion cubic meters of gas from the companies over the course of 15 years, in return for up to $10 billion.

For political reasons, it was decided that a separate company not registered in Israel would sell Jordan the gas.