Jordan: 58 MPs Seek to Draft Law to Ban Import of Israeli Gas to The Kingdom

Published December 23rd, 2019 - 10:04 GMT
The government said it would import 250-300 million cubic feet of natural gas per day from Noble Energy, which is expected to save the Kingdom around JD700 million.

A group of MPs on Sunday requested that an “urgent” draft law be formulated, banning the import of Israeli gas to the Kingdom. 

In the request submitted to the Lower House speaker’s office, a total of 58 deputies demanded that a law be written scrapping the gas deal with Israel. 

House Speaker Atef Tarawneh tasked the Legal Committee to address the proposal as an urgent matter and submit its recommendations promptly. 

A minimum of 10 senators or deputies shall have the right to propose or amend any law under Article 95 of the Constitution which reads: "If the House is of the opinion that the proposal be accepted it shall refer it to the Government for drafting it in the form of draft law, and to submit it to the House either during the same session or at the following session." 

Meanwhile, dozens of political party leaders and activists staged a protest in front of Parliament, calling on MPs to push for the cancellation of the gas deal with Israel.   

In September 2016, Jordan’s National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) signed a 15-year agreement with Noble Energy, a Houston-based company that holds the largest share in the Israeli Leviathan Gas Field, to purchase $10 billion worth of natural gas.

The government said it would import 250-300 million cubic feet of natural gas per day from Noble Energy, which is expected to save the Kingdom around JD700 million.

On Sunday, NEPCO said that experimental pumping of gas is scheduled to commence in early 2020 for three months, with the aim of testing the readiness of the infrastructure before the start of actual pumping, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Under the deal, Jordan will receive 3 billion cubic metres of gas per year.

In September, the Constitutional Court ruled that the gas deal between NEPCO and Noble Energy does not need Parliament’s approval. In a ruling published recently in the Official Gazette, the court explained that the government is not required to refer the gas deal to Parliament for approval as it was signed between two companies and not two states.

The court’s decision came in response to a request by the government in March to rule on the interpretation of Article 33 of the Constitution. 

Paragraph B of the said article reads: “Treaties and agreements which involve financial commitments to the Treasury or affect the public or private rights of Jordanians shall not be valid unless approved by the National Assembly. In no circumstances shall any secret terms contained in any treaty or agreement be contrary to their overt terms.”

The court said that even if a company is fully owned by the government, it is not to be considered an official public institution and thus decisions made by its board are not under the jurisdiction of public administration.

In a special session in March on the matter, the House declared its “utter rejection” of the gas deal”, requesting that the agreement be “cancelled at any cost”.

Tarawneh said that “the deal is completely rejected and we demand it gets cancelled at any cost and no matter what the Constitutional Court says”.

At the time, MPs called on the government to look for alternative energy resources from Arab states, arguing that the gas deal threatens Jordan’s energy security and serves the Israeli occupation’s economy.

Other deputies called for legal action against the government that signed the gas deal with Israel.

MP demands took further escalatory form with a total of 16 deputies signing a memorandum, requesting a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Omar Razzaz’s government for signing the gas deal with the “Zionist entity”.

This article has been adapted from its original source.    

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