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Majority of Jordan's parliament protest Israeli gas deal

Following nationwide protests, parliamentarians are scheduled to discuss and vote on the yet-completed gas deal with Israel on Tuesday
Jordan's government has signed a letter of intent to buy 1.6 trillion cubic feet of gas from Israel's offshore Leviathan gas field (AFP)

Seventy-nine parliamentarians from Jordanian House of Representatives have thrown their support behind the grassroots “Say No to Natural Gas Deal with Israel” campaign.

Launched by local NGOs earlier this year, the campaign challenges a deal between the Jordanian government and US-based Noble Energy for the purchase of Israeli gas over 15 years. Sources familiar with the deal have said the contract is worth between $14bn to $15bn.

In September, the government signed a letter of intent to complete the deal which parliament is scheduled to discuss and vote on on Tuesday.

“A natural gas deal with Israel means that Israel’s violations will continue, and that’s why we are against this projected agreement,” said Jamal Gamouh, president of the Energy Committee of Jordanian House of Representatives.

Gamuh explained that the deal must be approved by the Jordanian House of Representatives in order to be completed and said that a lot of deputies are against this possible deal.

“The natural gas which is sold by Israel is stolen from the lands of Palestine. The possible deal will strengthen the Zionist economy,” Badi el-Refaiyye, a member of the Jordanian Energy Committee said.

Jordanian officials have hailed the 15-year deal as an answer to the country’s energy woes. It will save the country $992mn annually and reduce losses at the National Electric Power Company (NEPCO), which are expected to be as high as $1.8bn by the end of 2014, the officials said.

The politician's support of the campaign follows several protests held across the country since September.

“We reject buying Palestinian gas, which was stolen by the Zionist state,” said Khaled Ramadan, one of around 100 protesters at a recent demonstration in Amman. Protesters carried placards reading “Hell is better than Israeli gas” and “Jordanians refuse to fund Israeli weapons”. 

“They are killing our sisters and brothers in Palestine, and they violated every single humanitarian law,” said protester Sufian al-Ahmad, a 28-year-old graphic designer.

According to the letter of intent, Noble Energy is due to supply 1.6tn cubic feet of natural gas, expected to flow in 2017 to Jordan’s National Electric Power Company.

Located off the shores of Haifa, Israel's third largest city, the Leviathan gas field has 621 bcm of natural gas reserves. Noble Energy owns almost 40 percent of the gas field. Israeli companies Delek Drilling and Avner Oil have a 23 percent share and Ratio Oil Exploration, also based in Israel, has a 15 percent interest.