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Hundreds gather downtown to protest Jordan-Israel gas deal

By Mohammad Ghazal - Mar 23,2019 - Last updated at Mar 23,2019

AMMAN — Hundreds of Jordanians took to the streets on Friday demanding the termination of a gas deal between Jordan’s National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) and Israel.

Following noon prayers on Friday in downtown Amman, the protesters said the deal supported the economy of the “Zionist entity”, calling on the government and the Lower House to take a “firm decision” and terminate the agreement.

During the march, which witnessed the participation of several activists and members of different political parties, protesters called for an end to the Wadi Arabia Peace Treaty, which Jordan and Israel signed in 1994.

“We are here to clearly reject this agreement with the Zionists... This agreement will only support the Zionist entity’s economy and will harm Jordan,” Hasan Alsheikh, an accountant and one of the demonstrators told The Jordan Times on Friday.

“The Zionists never committed to any agreement and this gas deal is totally denounced,” Sheikh said.

Samir Najjar, another protester who joined the downtown march, echoed similar remarks, saying: “We do not want to buy gas from the Zionists who are repeatedly assaulting Palestinians and are ongoing with their violations against Al Aqsa Mosque.”

“Jordan has many other options to buy gas and we do not need this agreement... we will continue to express our rejection of the deal which will harm our economy,” Najjar told The Jordan Times Friday.

Jordan is currently building a 65-kilometre pipeline which is scheduled to be finished by the end of 2019. The gas is expected to start arriving in Jordan in 2020, according to NEPCO.

The pipeline, once completed, will be connected to the gas pipeline in Mafraq, and gas will later be distributed to the country’s power plants for the generation of electricity. 

Work is also ongoing to build a pipeline on the Israeli side to transfer the gas to Jordan.

In September of 2016, 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 then 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.

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

In Jordan, which imports about 95 per cent of its energy needs, demand for electricity rises by 6-7 per cent annually.

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