Earlier this month, a senior Israeli delegation led by Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation Ayoob Kara met with Jordan’s Prime Minister Dr. Hani Al-Muki and other officials, in order to discuss bilateral projects and closer cooperation on water, electricity, and natural gas. Israel under an agreement is set to provide Jordan with 45 billion cubic meters of natural gas over 15 years, as the first natural gas pipeline to Jordan is scheduled to begin operating in 2017.
Jordan, which has no natural energy resources, will benefit especially in light of the massive presence of Syrian refugees currently on its territory (estimates vary between 1.3 million and 2.4 million). Additionally, Israel is committed to provide the Palestinian Authority with 20-30 million cubic meters of water annually.
Jordan’s King Abdullah is reportedly supportive of these joint projects with Israel. The biggest joint project already underway between the two countries, in partnership with the Palestinian Authority, is a 200 km underground pipeline between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea – a solution to the drying up of the Dead Sea.
Another project that is under discussion is the development of a joint industrial zone – the ‘Shaar Hayarden’ zone. Originally proposed in 1994, this would be located south of the Israeli town of Beit Shean – with factories on the Jordanian side and logistics warehouses in Israel. It is speculated that goods could be exported to the US tariff free.
This month’s meeting between Israeli and Jordanian officials also involved talks over opening a fourth border cross between Israel and Jordan at the southern end of the Dead Sea, which would facilitate to Jordanians wanting to work in Israel. Israel’s Deputy Ministry Kara, who sees 4,000 Jordanian workers making use of this border every day, commented: “Bringing in more Jordanian workers to Israel strengthens peace between the countries. Israel has a clear interest in strengthening the Jordanian economy so that it can combat extreme elements such as ISIS”.