Jordanian lawmakers urge canceling $10 billion natural gas deal with Israel
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Jordanian lawmakers urge canceling $10 billion natural gas deal with Israel

Objectors reportedly reject working with ‘Zionist enemy;’ Amman says it wants to hear opinion from constitutional court on 2016 agreement for supply from offshore fields

This picture taken on January 31, 2019 shows a view of the SSCV Thialf crane vessel after laying the newly-arrived foundation platform for the Leviathan natural gas field in the Mediterranean Sea, about 130 kilometers (81 miles) west of the Israeli coastal city of Haifa. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/AFP)
This picture taken on January 31, 2019 shows a view of the SSCV Thialf crane vessel after laying the newly-arrived foundation platform for the Leviathan natural gas field in the Mediterranean Sea, about 130 kilometers (81 miles) west of the Israeli coastal city of Haifa. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/AFP)

Jordanian lawmakers are pushing for the government to cancel a $10 billion deal for the supply of natural gas from Israel, reportedly demanding that the 2016 agreement be canceled at any cost.

During a parliamentary session on Tuesday, lawmakers insisted that the kingdom seek alternative sources from other Arab states, the Jordan Times reported.

They said the deal, for 45 billion cubic meters of gas from Israel’s Leviathan offshore gas field, is a threat to Jordan’s energy security and helps support Israel’s control of the West Bank.

A US-Israeli consortium in September 2016 signed the deal with the Jordan Electric Power Company to supply the Hashemite Kingdom with natural gas for 15 years.

The Jordanian Parliament (Jordan Parliament official)

House Speaker Atef Tarawneh claimed broad public opinion backed rejecting the deal with the “Zionist entity” and demanded it be “canceled at any cost.”

Deputy Prime Minister Rajai Muasher said the government would refer the matter to the Constitutional Court and then decide how to act after learning the court’s opinion.

“If the court rules that the deal is between two companies and the parliament has no say over it, the government will review the agreement again and take the necessary decision in consultation with the House,” Muasher said.

Tarawneh responded that “the deal is completely rejected and we demand it gets canceled at any cost and no matter what the Constitutional Court says.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry and Energy Ministry both declined to comment on the developments. A diplomatic source, speaking condition of anonymity, said that Jerusalem avoids commenting on internal Jordanian politics.

Screen capture from video of Atef Tarawneh, the Speaker of the Lower House of the Jordanian parliament. (YouTube)

The source noted that the gas supply “answers the strategic energy needs of Jordan” and that a decision on the deal ultimately rests with the government and the monarch rather than the protesting parliamentarians. Preparations to implement the deal are proceeding as planned, the source noted.

Relations with Jordan have recently been strained over clashes on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. Jordan sees itself as custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim holy sites, including those in the Temple Mount enclosure.

The Leviathan consortium, which includes the US-based Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek Group, aims to bring the massive Leviathan oilfield online in 2019. The field is thought to contain over 500 billion cubic feet of gas and is expected to transform Israel into a regional energy powerhouse.

A key support structure for Leviathan was lifted into place in January 2019, a vital step toward bringing the gas field on line.

An aerial view of the Israeli ‘Tamar’ gas processing rig 24 kilometers off the Israeli southern coast of Ashkelon. Noble Energy and Delek are the main partners in the oil field, October 11, 2013. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

In 2014, Israel signed a separate deal with Jordan to supply $500 million worth of gas to the Hashemite Kingdom from the Tamar natural gas field in the Mediterranean.

Leviathan, discovered in 2010, is estimated to hold 18.9 trillion cubic feet (535 billion cubic meters) of natural gas, along with 34.1 million barrels of condensate.

Development of its own energy resources is seen as a major strategic asset for Israel, which has no oil and little natural water reserves.

Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994 and the agreement has remained intact ever since despite various diplomatic spats over the years.

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