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Blackout planned to protest gas deal with Israel

‘Silent protesters’ picket NEPCO to call for scrapping agreement

By Suzanna Goussous - Oct 06,2016 - Last updated at Oct 12,2016

Activists protest outside the National Electric Power Company in Amman on Wednesday against the gas deal with Israel (Photo courtesy of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement)

AMMAN — Activists on Tuesday called on Jordanians to turn off their lights for one hour on Sunday to protest the recent gas deal between Jordan’s National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) and Israel. 

“We will turn off electrical appliances and anything related to wired devices. This will not affect [NEPCO’s] profit, we are aware of that, but at least we can show them that we all demand the cancellation of the deal,” said an activist from the Jordanian National Campaign Against the Gas Agreement with the Zionist Entity.

The 15-year gas deal will “affect Jordan’s future and the electricity company will invest in an occupation state”, said the activist, who asked not to be named. 

“This will not be the first time we turn our lights off and celebrate our freedom and the people’s will. It is our way of expressing anger and outrage towards the signed agreement,” the activist told The Jordan Times. 

On Sunday, households in Amman, Karak, Irbid, Mafraq and Salt switched off their lights at 9pm to protest the deal.  

In late September, NEPCO announced it would buy gas from Israel for the next 15 years, at a cost of around $10 billion, to cover 40 per cent of the Kingdom’s electricity needs. 

NEPCO officials previously told The Jordan Times the gas deal with Noble Energy would “save Jordan up to $600 million each year”, with around 300 million cubic feet imported by the Kingdom daily.

Activists have since organised marches and demonstrations to denounce the deal.

Noble Energy is a Houston-based company that holds the largest share in the Israeli Leviathan gas field, located in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Israel.

In remarks on Sunday to Jordan Television’s “Jordan this Evening” programme, Government Spokesperson Mohammad Momani said it is “extremely shallow” to suggest that Jordan supports the Israeli occupation by signing the gas deal, stressing the Kingdom’s “undisputed stance” towards the occupation.

 “We are the one country most capable of confronting this occupation,” he noted, stressing, however, the need to “put matters in perspective”, since Jordan has signed a peace deal with Israel in 1994 and is engaged in trade with it.

Several members of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement on Wednesday staged a “silent” sit-in in front of NEPCO’s headquarters to protest the deal.

The 90-minute protest was held to demand the cancellation of the deal, according to movement members.

Activist Sireen Itani said the protest was to let the company know that Jordanians are against signing a gas deal with “a state built through occupation”.

Turning off electrical appliances will contribute to the cause and deliver the message to the government “through peaceful means”, Itani noted.

She said several movements and parties are organising various events in Amman and other governorates to protest the deal.

Correction: A previous version of this article reported Friday as the day when the blackout is planned. It is planned for Sunday.

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