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House recommends scrapping tentative gas deal with Israel

By Raed Omari - Dec 10,2014 - Last updated at Dec 10,2014

AMMAN — Lawmakers on Wednesday recommended that the government shelve a planned natural gas deal with Israel following two long sessions dedicated to discussing the controversial issue.

Concluding a heated debate, Lower House Speaker Atef Tarawneh asked MPs to vote on two recommendations: a call on the government to annul the intended gas deal with Israel or that the entire issue be postponed until MPs receive the copies of the final agreement.

An overwhelming majority of MPs voted in favour of the first recommendation, which also entailed the House's rejection of the intended gas imports or any form of economic normalisation with Israel. 

In September, the government said the state-owned National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) and the US-based Noble Energy signed a deal under which NEPCO would buy 250-300 million cubic feet of natural gas per day from Noble Energy.

Tarawneh noted that a total of 107 MPs took the podium to comment on the gas deal with Israel during the two sessions, adding that the government is "obliged" to abide by the endorsed recommendation, although the final agreement is not concluded yet.  

The government referred to the House a "letter of intent" on the planned gas deal, which gives the Chamber the right to discuss the issue as stipulated by its Rules of Procedures, the speaker said, expressing confidence that the government would take into consideration all remarks raised by MPs. 

In response to deputies’ criticism of the government for “dealing with the enemy", Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour rejected remarks describing his government as  "collaborators" or agents to any party, adding that the government maintains its free will to carry on with the deal or scrap it without any external pressure.

During Wednesday's session, some MPs charged that Tel Aviv is pressuring Amman to enter the deal. 

The premier said that MPs have the right to express their opinions regarding the intended deal, stressing at the same time that his government is “no less patriotic” than the Chamber and the wider public. 

"I can't accept having my history stigmatised with approving a deal that might harm Jordan and Jordanians. The government is here to serve the country and its interests," the premier said.

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