Activists in Jordan launch protest against natural gas deal with Israel

The deal between the two countries has been widely denounced in Jordan over the years with trade unions, activists and politicians deeming it to be a “betrayal of the Palestinian people”

June 05, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Photo : Alarby

Activists part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) in Jordan are campaigning against the 15-year-long Jordan-Israel natural gas deal worth nearly USD 10 billion. The campaign urges ordinary Jordanian citizens to switch off all lights and electrical appliances in their homes between 10 pm and 11 pm on Saturday, June 6 to mark their protest. 

Using the hashtag #pull_theplug, the activists are raising awareness about the deal and how it monetarily aids Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

The campaign of the Jordanian chapter of the BDS calls on the government to terminate its gas deal with Israel entirely. In a statement, they expressed support “with our brothers in Palestine, and in response to the continued violations of their rights and the occupation and colonization of Arab lands in Palestine, we urge the government to take real action by annulling their agreement to import gas, which is the largest normalization agreement with the Zionist entity.” 

The agreement, originally signed between the two countries in 2016, was widely opposed in Jordan. It had also been rejected by an overwhelming majority in the Jordanian parliament last year, with all 130 members of parliament voting to scrap the deal. Massive, spontaneous, popular protests had also broken out in January 2020, when Jordan started receiving Israeli gas for three months that was being generated by the US-based Noble energy group in the Leviathan gas field owned by Israel. The Jordanian government at the time had claimed that by receiving gas from Israel, it would be saving USD 600 million annually as it will be procured from a closer location.

Even amidst great opposition, the government went ahead with the deal. The country’s constitutional court also ruled in favor of the deal by reasoning that the deal is between two private companies, the Noble group and Jordan’s National Electricity Company (NEPCO), and not two governments. Activists and citizens of Jordan have also demanded that the country revoke its long standing peace treaty with Israel in response to the regular military assaults, oppression and occupation of Palestine. 

The latest protest action comes in the aftermath of the deadly Israeli airstrikes on Gaza and and attacks on the Al-Aqsa mosque complex, which as per the peace agreement between Israel and Jordan, is to be looked after through a Jordanian Waqf committee. 

Even though Israel has failed to honor the agreement, instead of taking any action, the Jordanian government continues to allow the supply of Israeli gas to fulfill its energy needs, 98% of which is imported from other countries.