Activists protest Jordan-Israel gas pipeline deal

Published September 29th, 2016 - 09:00 GMT
An Israeli-owned natural gas extraction field off the coast of Haifa. (AFP/File)
An Israeli-owned natural gas extraction field off the coast of Haifa. (AFP/File)

Activists and professional associations on Tuesday expressed anger and concern over the gas deal signed a day earlier between Jordan’s National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) and Israel.  

A so-called Jordanian National Campaign Against Gas Agreement with the Zionist Entity has announced that it would stage a protest after Friday prayers in downtown Amman, calling for the cancellation of the agreement. 

NEPCO told The Jordan Times on Monday that the deal would create an annual surplus of $300 million for the government-owned company and prevent future hikes in electricity prices, while diversifying energy resources in light of disruptions to the gas supply from Egypt.  

But critics judged the deal in a different light. 

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in Jordan is among those calling for the immediate reversal of the agreement, said Sireen Itani, a member of the group. 

 “It is a deal rejected by the people of Jordan. It has its economic, political, and moral consequences that would affect the country in the long term. By signing the agreement, our national security and economy will be at the mercy of the Zionist entity,”  said Itani.

The deal means Jordan is investing $10 billion in Israel, she explained. “It also means we are giving away job opportunities to Israelis. This is a very dangerous step for us. Around 40 per cent of our gas needs [for electricity generation] is directly connected to them.” 

Jordanians have opposed the gas deal since it was first announced two years ago, through protests and movements across the Kingdom, Itani noted. 

Through the deal, Jordan will be investing and developing Israel’s energy sector, she said. “A good percentage of our electricity bills will be sent to them. We are funding their next war on Gaza.”

Malek Sabe, a BDS activist from Mafraq, said Jordanians in the governorates were angry about the deal. “The Jordanian people cannot accept a deal of stolen gas,” he said. 

He questioned the timing of the deal, and said the price was too high considering the decline in international gas prices.

“The long-term impact is a contract with the Zionists. The timing is not right, neither is the price. We are letting our martyrs down,” he told The Jordan Times.

Basel Burgan, an activist in Amman, said that although the company had previously announced its intention to sign a gas deal with Israel, anti-normalisation activists were “shocked” that it was signed “so quickly”. 

“Jordan is the only Arab country signing a gas deal with the Zionist entity. It is shocking since the company announced the signing of the deal at a time when we are busy with elections, [leftist writer] Nahed Hattar’s assassination, and other issues,” Burgan told The Jordan Times.

The Jordan Bar Association, he said, will file a lawsuit against the government to protest the decision.

The Professional Association Complex in Karak governorate will organise protests over the upcoming days, along with activists in Irbid, Mafraq and Salt, he said.

“The government must acknowledge people’s rejection of the gas deal. It is a long journey but we aim to step up our campaigns and protests until we get a response.”

University student Salem Sarayrah said the gas deal would “have negative consequences on Jordan” and that “the government should not accept such an agreement since Jordanians and Palestinians are murdered in Palestine every day”.

“As students, we have always learned to question, to get more information. We do not accept this gas deal because it was not approved by the people,” he told The Jordan Times.

Jordanian Democratic Popular Unity Party said in an e-mail sent to The Jordan Times that the gas deal emphasised the relations between Jordan and Israel, which the public rejects. 

The party called on activists and other parties to “step up” their activities to pressure the government to cancel the gas deal.

Meanwhile, the Jordan Engineers Association denounced the deal, which, it said, would leave Jordan’s economy and stability in Israel’s control for 15 years.

The association noted that the deal was signed 10 days after Jordanian Saeed Amro was killed by Israeli forces in Jerusalem. 

“The gas deal will give the occupation forces the right to control the infrastructure used to deliver the gas… This puts the Kingdom’s future in serious danger,” the association said in a statement.

By Suzanna Goussous


© Copyright The Jordan Times. All rights reserved.

You may also like