Israel launches massive project in Jordanian desert

Jordan has committed to buying twice as much water from Israel in a tit-for-tat deal

By World Israel News staff

Israel and Jordan are set to sign a mutually beneficial deal, in which Israel will build a giant solar farm in the Jordanian desert in exchange for providing Jordan with more water.

The United Arab Emirates, an Abraham Accord partner to Israel, is also involved in the deal as it will fund the solar farm, while the U.S. climate envoy John Kerry has been credited for being instrumental in brokering the deal, Axios has reported.

The deal is expected to be signed on Monday in Dubai, by Israeli Energy Minister Karine Elharrar, Jordanian Water Minister Raed Abu Al-Saud and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed, with Kerry in attendance.

The project was initially the vision of regional environmental NGO EcoPeace Middle East. The idea is that Israel will bolster its renewable energy generation by building a large solar farm in the Jordanian desert where there is more land available, and in exchange will build a desalination plant on the Mediterranean, which is closer to Jordan’s large population centers than its own coastline.

Axios reports that the solar farm will be built by UAE government-owned alternative energy company Masdar. It is intended to be operational by 2026, and to supply 2% of Israel’s energy needs by 2030. In return, Israel will pay $180 million a year, split equally between Masdar and the Jordanian government.

The deal also commits Jordan to buying more of its water from Israel, doubling the amount it acquires, which will come either from the new desalination plant or existing facilities.

Israel’s relationship with Jordan has grown warmer since Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett took the reins from Benjamin Netanyahu. The agreement is reported to have arisen from behind the scenes talks between the three governments, which solidified into a draft agreement in October.

Initially the deal was planned to be signed two weeks ago at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, but Bennett requested it be postponed due to concerns that it might spark debate within Israel just days before a crucial budget vote, Israeli officials told Axios.

Final details were negotiated Tuesday, with Kerry involved in the talks.