Israel Doubles Water Supply to Jordan

Israel will this year double its supply of water to Jordan and encourage Amman to export more to the Palestinians, Israeli officials said on Thursday after a source told Reuters the new Israeli prime minister had secretly met the Jordanian king.

Jordan is a key security partner for Israel but relations have suffered in recent years over Israeli-Palestinian tensions.

Yair Lapid, foreign minister in a cross-partisan coalition that ousted long-serving conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government a month ago, held a first meeting with Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi on Thursday.

Lapid said Israel would sell its neighbor 50 million cubic meters of water this year.

An Israeli official said that would effectively double the supply for the year - from May 2021 to May 2022 - as around 50 million cubic meters was already being sold or given to Jordan. A Jordanian official said Israel gives the kingdom 30 million cubic meters annually under their 1994 peace treaty.

Lapid said the countries also agreed to explore increasing Jordan's exports to the West Bank to $700 million a year, from $160 million now.

"The Kingdom of Jordan is an important neighbor and partner," Lapid said in a statement. "We will broaden economic cooperation for the good of the two countries."

The United States welcomed the agreements. "It is these kinds of tangible steps that increase prosperity for all and advance regional stability," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.