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Israel signs deal doubling water supply to parched Jordan

Energy minister says agreement underscores Jerusalem’s desire for ‘good neighborly relations’ with Amman; 50 million cubic meters a year to be delivered

A picture taken on July 11, 2021, shows a pipe system used to transfer water from Israel to Jordan by Mekorot, Israel's national water company, near Kibbutz Masada by the border with Jordan (background), south of the Sea of Galilee, or Lake Tiberias, one of the main water sources in Israel. (MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)
A picture taken on July 11, 2021, shows a pipe system used to transfer water from Israel to Jordan by Mekorot, Israel's national water company, near Kibbutz Masada by the border with Jordan (background), south of the Sea of Galilee, or Lake Tiberias, one of the main water sources in Israel. (MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)

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

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

Elharrar traveled to Jordan for a signing ceremony between representatives to the Joint Water Committee that manages bilateral water relations. This capped an arrangement first announced in July.

The two countries agreed then that Israel would sell 50 million cubic meters of water a year to Jordan, doubling what it already supplies.

“This represents the largest water sale in the history of the two countries,” said Gidon Bromberg, Israel director of the regional environmental group EcoPeace Middle East.

He said that the deal “reflects the growing understanding that the climate crisis already heavily impacting the region must lead to increased cooperation.”

Energy Minister Karine Elharrar during a meeting of the Arrangements Committee at the Knesset on June 9, 2021 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

“This is what good neighbors do, in line with Israel’s policy of connections with other countries,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said.

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 additional water Israel will provide will come from the Sea of Galilee, said Shaked Eliahu, a spokeswoman for Elharrar.

The water deal comes 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.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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