Israel, Jordan Sign United Arab Emirates Brokered Deal to Swap Solar Energy and Water
By Times of Israel and Agence France Presse

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TOI STAFF and AFP

ABU DHABI — November 22, 2021 — Largest-ever Jerusalem / Amman deal will see United Arab Emirates firm build plant in Jordan from which Israel will buy electricity; desalination plant in Israel will send water to Jordan

Israel and Jordan on Monday signed their largest-ever cooperation agreement, which will see the construction of a major solar power plant in the Hashemite Kingdom to generate electricity for the Jewish state while a desalination plant established in Israel will send water to Jordan.

The agreement was brokered by the United Arab Emirates, which hosted a signing ceremony at the Dubai Expo. Present at the ceremony were UAE Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Zayed and US Climate Envoy John Kerry, who was involved in getting the agreement over the finish line.

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L-R: Energy and Water Resources Minister Karine Elharrar, UAE Climate Change Minister Mariam Almheiri and Jordan Water and Irrigation Minister Mohammed Al-Najjar sign a water agreement at a Dubai Expo event on November 22, 2021, as US Climate Envoy John Kerry and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed look on. (UAE Foreign Ministry/Twitter)

The agreement will see Israel purchase solar power from the Jordan-based facility, which will be constructed by an Emirati firm, and Jordan purchase water from the Israeli site to be constructed along the Mediterranean coast.

The deal represented the latest byproduct of the Abraham Accords normalization agreement Israel signed with the UAE last year under the auspices of the Trump administration. The Biden administration has also pledged to build on those agreements while remaining adamant that they are not a replacement for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

The deal was reportedly first raised in a September meeting between Energy Minister Karine Elharrar and UAE Ambassador to Israel Mohamed Al Khaja, during discussions on how the UAE can help broker future regional deals in the wake of the Abraham Accords.

Elharrar met with Jordan Water and Irrigation Minister Mohammed Al-Najjar last month for the signing of a separate agreement doubling the amount of water Israel supplies to perennially parched Jordan.

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

The Israeli minister said the agreement was the “most significant” since the former enemies signed a peace treaty in 1994.

“The benefit of this agreement is not only in the form of green electricity or desalinated water, but also the strengthening of relations with the neighbor that has the longest border with Israel,” she said in a Monday statement.

“The Middle East is on the frontline of the climate crisis,” Kerry said in his own statement. “Only by working together can countries in the region rise to the scale of the challenge.”

Feasibility studies for the project are due to start next year.

Jordan is one of the world’s most water-deficient nations and its cooperation on water with Israel dates back to before the two established formal relations.