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National security adviser confirms solar, water swap deal with Jordan

Energy ministers will sign agreement in the UAE on Monday; Eyal Hulata says pact enabled by the Abraham Accords

National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata speaks during the IISS Manama Dialogue in the Bahraini capital Manama on November 21, 2021. (Mazen Mahdi/AFP)
National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata speaks during the IISS Manama Dialogue in the Bahraini capital Manama on November 21, 2021. (Mazen Mahdi/AFP)

Israel is set to sign a declaration of intent with neighboring Jordan on building a major solar power plant in the kingdom that will be used to generate electricity for Israel, as well as power a desalination plant in Israel that will send water to Jordan, an Israeli official said Sunday.

The deal will be signed in the United Arab Emirates on Monday between the two countries’ energy ministers, said Eyal Hulata, Israel’s national security adviser. He made the comment Sunday at the Manama Dialogue in Bahrain, an annual event hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“The Abraham Accords are the enabler of such an important agreement to promote the national security of both of our countries,” Hulata said, referring to the diplomatic deal that saw the Emirates and several other Arab states normalize relations with Israel last year.

Hulata gave no cash value for the project.

The Walla news site reported last week that the agreement will be the biggest regional cooperation project ever reached between Israel and its neighbors.

The report, which cited five Israeli officials familiar with the negotiations, claimed that the Biden administration was also aware of and involved in the massive project. United States special envoy on climate, John Kerry, reportedly spoke multiple times with both Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Jordanian King Abdullah about the proposal.

A solar plant during its official inauguration at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, on November 13, 2017. (AFP Photo/Khalil Mazraawi)

Kerry, Energy Minister Karine Elharrar, Jordanian Water Minister Mohammed Al-Najjar and UAE special envoy on climate change Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber are expected to take part in the signing of the deal.

Under the terms of the deal, a UAE company will construct the solar plant in Jordan from which Israel will purchase electricity. The deal was reportedly first raised in a meeting in September between Elharrar and UAE Ambassador to Israel Mohamed Al Khaja, during discussions on how the UAE can help broker future regional agreements following the Abraham Accords.

Elharrar met with Jordan’s Al-Najjar last month for a signing ceremony doubling the amount of water Israel supplies to perennially parched Jordan. That agreement, she said at the time, is proof that “we want good neighborly relations” with Jordan.

Despite signing a peace agreement with Jordan 25 years ago, relations have been chilly in recent years, particularly during the tenure of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But with the new government headed by Naftali Bennett in place, signs of thaw with Israel’s eastern neighbor have emerged.

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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