Economy ministers of Israel, Jordan meet for first time in decade to boost ties

Officials ink deal to allow wider range of exports from Jordan to Palestinian Authority, including construction materials, fabrics, electronics, apparel

Economy Minister Orna Barbivai and Jordan's Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply Yousef Alshamali meet in Jordan, November 3, 2021 (Yossi Iphergan, GPO)
Economy Minister Orna Barbivai and Jordan's Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply Yousef Alshamali meet in Jordan, November 3, 2021 (Yossi Iphergan, GPO)

Israel’s Economy Minister Orna Barbivai and her Jordanian counterpart Yousef Alshamali met in Jordan on Tuesday to discuss bilateral ties, the first such meeting in a decade.

The two discussed “a variety of ways to strengthen economic ties between the two countries,” including renewing the countries’ trade agreement, tourism and more.

A key focus of the meeting was the expansion of an export deal between Jordan and the Palestinian Authority to increase the number of products making their way into Palestinian areas from Jordan, including construction materials, fabrics, electronics and apparel. Alshamali had met with his Palestinian counterpart on Monday to discuss the details, according to The Times of Israel’s Hebrew sister site Zman Yisrael.

The deal will see exports value from Jordan to the Palestinian Authority grow from about $150 million per year to over $700 million. It builds on economic agreements dating back to 1995, according to the Economy Ministry

The Israeli and Jordanian ministers also discussed civil and economic relations between Israel and Jordan.

“The economy is a bridge to excellent relations between nations, certainly with our Jordanian neighbors,” said Barbivai in a video statement.

“The trade benefits agreed upon today between the Israeli government and Jordan are an important dimension in the strengthening of diplomatic relations between the two countries,” Barbivai said. “Deepening civilian and economic ties contributes to bilateral relations, national security, and the protection of Israel’s longest and most quiet border.”

Last month, Israel formally agreed to double the amount of freshwater it provides to Jordan, one of the world’s most water-deficient countries.

Karine Elharrar, Israel’s minister of infrastructure, energy, and water resources said at the time that the agreement was proof that “we want good neighborly relations.”

Jordan’s cooperation with Israel on water predates their 1994 peace treaty. Israel is also a hot, dry country, but desalination technology has opened opportunities for selling freshwater.

The burgeoning ties with Jordan come after bilateral relations had cooled under Israel’s former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Naftali Bennett, who took over in June, has made strengthening ties with Amman a priority.

In July, Bennett met with King Abdullah II in secret at the crown palace in Amman, in the first summit between the countries’ leaders in over three years.

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