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Israeli PM Approves 50 Mln Cubic Meters Sale of Water to Jordan

Israeli PM Approves 50 Mln Cubic Meters Sale of Water to Jordan

Saturday, 3 July, 2021 - 06:45
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (AP)

Israel’s newly-elected Prime Minister Naftali Bennett approved the immediate sale of 50 million cubic meters of water to Jordan, to be followed by another 50 million next year, in a step to improve relations with Amman.

Bennett's spokesman said that Jordan might potentially get the same amount of water for the next five years and the Israeli National Security Council would discuss the matter each year separately.

Political sources in Tel Aviv noted that the Biden administration was active in applying pressure on Israel to agree to Jordan’s request, to improve recently-soured relations between the two countries.

Bennett wanted to put an end to the tense bilateral relations, which Netanyahu is accused of sabotaging.

Israel supplies Jordan with about 55 million cubic meters of water annually, according to the peace agreement signed between the two in 1994. However, Jordan's water needs to be increased significantly after the influx of about three million refugees from Iraq and Syria.

Israel increased the quantities of water according to Jordanian demand, and Jordan paid 40 cents per cubic meter, four times the regular price.

However, political relations between the two countries became tense in 2017, following the tensions in East Jerusalem and al-Aqsa Mosque, which Netanyahu used as a tool of pressure.

The former PM refused Jordan's requests for additional water supplies, and earlier this year, tensions heightened after Israel imposed impossible conditions on the Jordanian Crown Prince's visit to Jerusalem, prompting him to cancel the trip.

Jordan responded by delaying an order to allow Netanyahu's plane to pass over Jordanian airspace, on its way to the UAE. Netanyahu was forced to cancel his trip.

Last April, Netanyahu backed down and agreed to provide Jordan with additional water. But the deal was not completed and was transferred to the new Israeli government.

Bennett approved the additional quantities, saying his approval was based on the position of the professional officials in the Israeli Water Authority, who confirmed that the situation in the Sea of ​​Galilee allowed the request to be met.

He explained that Jordan will pay the full price for the water, and that "this kind gesture will not cost the Israeli taxpayer anything."

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