Jordan Islamists threaten legal action over Israel gas deal

Opposition party vows to sue proponents of impending $15 billion energy agreement with Jerusalem

An aerial view of an Israeli offshore gas rig (Albatross Aerial photography/Noble Energy/Flash90/File)
An aerial view of an Israeli offshore gas rig (Albatross Aerial photography/Noble Energy/Flash90/File)

AMMAN — Jordan’s main opposition Islamist party threatened Saturday to take legal action against anyone in the kingdom who signs a controversial gas deal with Israel.

Amman’s plans to buy gas from the Jewish state have aroused fierce opposition at a time of mounting criticism of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians.

The Islamic Action Front, political wing of the Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, said on its website that it “strongly rejects the deal in question, no matter what the pretext, political or economic, and will prosecute all those who agree to or sign such an agreement”.

The IAF said it regretted that the government “has stubbornly ignored the popular will to maintain suspect relations with the occupying power [Israel] and to conclude such an agreement.”

The 20-year-old peace treaty between Jordan and Israel is deeply unpopular among Jordanians — almost half of whom are of Palestinian origin.

Detractors of the September gas deal, under which Israel would supply Jordan with 45.4 billion cubic meters (1.6 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas from its Leviathan offshore field over 15 years, reject any cooperation with a country they regard as an enemy.

A source close to the deal, which has yet to be approved by the government, said it would be worth $15 billion (11.4 billion euros).

Energy-poor Jordan was heavily reliant on gas supplies from Egypt, until they ground to a halt following a spate of bomb attacks since 2011 on the export pipeline through Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula.

Parliament debated the deal on Tuesday after 79 lawmakers in the 150-seat house filed a motion calling for it to be scrapped.

Defending the project, Energy Minister Mohamed Hamed told parliament buying gas from Israel “does not threaten the future of Jordan nor does it leave Jordan’s economy hostage in the hands of any country.”

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