Ammon News, Editor's Choice

King to France 24: We want a better life for Jordan

[1/13/2020 3:51:13 AM]

AMMONNEWS - France 24 TV channel conducted an interview with His Majesty King Abdullah on Sunday that covered a number of domestic, regional, and international issues. In the interview, conducted by France 24’s Marc Perelman, King Abdullah noted that the impact of regional developments has added pressure on Jordan, stressing the importance of providing opportunities for young people. In the interview, conducted by France 24’s Marc Perelman, King Abdullah noted that the impact of regional developments has added pressure on Jordan, stressing the importance of providing opportunities for young people. "We do want a better life for Jordan. We are stuck in a very difficult neighbourhood the Syrian refugees have been a tremendous burden on us," His Majesty told France 24. "We are saving Europe tremendous amount of pressure by looking after the refugees in our country," the King said. His Majesty said Jordan is strategically committed to peace, noting that "the two-state solution in my mind, and I know in the majority of European countries, is the only way forward", and reaffirming that "moving dialogue back between the Israelis and Palestinians is essential". Asked about the late Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman, who passed away recently, the King said he was "known for being a neutral voice, a voice of reason and a leader that actually brought people together". Noting that the region has the "largest youth cohort in history", His Majesty said youth want a great opportunity at life and stability, which calls on all countries to deal with economic conditions in a way "to give people a better life". The King also warned against plunging the region into further instability, underscoring that "instability in our part of the world affects Europe and the rest of the globe". Following is the full text of the broadcast interview: Perelman: Your Majesty, you’re about to go to Europe. And among the discussions, the topics of discussions you’ll have with European leaders, clearly there will be one, and it’s a big question, a daunting question are we on the brink of an all-out war between the United States and Iran? King Abdullah II: Well, I think that the quick response to that is I hope not. We will be in Brussels, Strasbourg, and Paris in the next couple of days, reaching out with our friends and the leadership of Europe to look at multiple subjects in this area and how we coordinate this region with Europe. Obviously, on the forefront of people’s minds is what is happening between Iran and the United States. So far, it looks like de-escalation. We hope that that continues to be the trend. We can’t afford any instability in our part of the world. An instability in our part of the world affects Europe and the rest of the globe, so I think a lot of our discussions will be centred around Iran, but mainly around Iraq. I feel that in this last phase, at the end of the day, it’s the Iraqi people who have suffered, who have paid the price. They deserve stability; they deserve a movement to the future. And I think a lot of the discussion in Europe is how do we all embrace the Iraqi people and give them the hope of stability and a future of their nation, and all the other subjects unfortunately that are in the region that we have to discuss. Perelman: Yes. Was President Trump’s decision to kill Iran’s top General Qasem Soleimani the right decision? King Abdullah II: Well, I mean, that’s an American decision, and what we want to make sure is that this is something that has happened. We are ushering in a new decade, not just a new year, and we hope that in the next several months, we set the right tone for the region, which is, to really, bring the temperature down, and the sensitivities. As you know, everything in this part of the world is interlinked, so whatever happens in Tehran will affect Baghdad, will affect Damascus, will affect Beirut, will affect the Israeli-Palestinian process. So I think this is why this trip to Europe comes at the right time, where we need to talk about how do we talk to each other with maturity and respect, as opposed to rhetoric that could create this problem that takes us to the brink. Perelman: You mentioned Iraq, obviously. Are you afraid that the country could again go into a period of sectarian strife, maybe civil war? King Abdullah II: That is a possibility. I have tremendous faith in the Iraqi people. I think that Perelman: But you’re worried. King Abdullah II: We have to be worried. And I’m worried. Again, I have faith in the Iraqi people being able to move towards the light. Iraq was moving in a tremendous positive trajectory over the past two years. I think that the loss of government has created, maybe, a couple of steps back. I have all the faith in Iraqi leaders to move back into that, into the positive direction. We have to work very strongly in making sure that sectarianism is not an issue that we have to deal with. But again, I think my major concern in the discussions I will be having in Europe is that we have seen over the past year the re-establishment and rise of ISIS not only in southern-eastern Syria, but also in western Iraq. So if there is a split in Iraqi society as there is today, and I know that the leaders of Iraq are making sure that that is overcome. We have to deal with the re-emergence of ISIS, and that is going to create a problem for Baghdad, and we need to be there to step in and help the Iraqis deal with that threat, which is a threat to all of us, not only in the region, but also to Europe and to the rest of the world. Perelman: Well, obviously, as you mentioned, you must have noticed that ISIS hailed the killing of Qasem Soleimani as "divine intervention"; the coalition fighting ISIS has suspended its operation in Iraq; there’s obviously talk of US troop withdrawal from Iraq. We’ve seen it in Syria. So this begs the question, are we dropping the ball in the fight against ISIS? King Abdullah II: I think common sense prevails. As we’ve seen what has happened over the past week or so, there has been a lot of discussion, with not only the United States, but a lot under the umbrella of NATO members, on how we go from protecting, for example, maybe coalition troops in Iraq, to getting the discussion back in the right direction in working with Iraq and others in the area in defeating ISIS and the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, keeping in mind it’s not only those two countries. We have an issue in Libya, where we’re seeing the strengthening of foreign fighters coming out of Syria, going to Libya. And so from a European perspective, Libya being much closer to Europe, that is also going to be an important discussion in the next couple of days on how do we look at Libya making sure that we are actually fighting the fight against terrorist organisations. Perelman: Well, speaking of Libya, what’s your reaction to Turkey sending troops? King Abdullah II: Well, again, that will only, I think, create more confusion. There is a very important Russian decision today. We hope that that helps de-escalate the issue, but several thousand hard-core foreign fighters have left Idlib through the northern border and have ended up in Libya, and that’s something that we in the region, but also our European friends will have to address in 2020, because we do not want a failed state in Libya, and a major conflict between all of us in a coalition against extremist terrorist organisations. Perelman: Just coming back to Iran, President Trump warned that Iran was targeting four US embassies, do you know if the US embassy in Jordan was one of the targets? And more broadly, have you seen any indications of Iran proxies maybe plotting attacks against Jordan? King Abdullah II: There has been a higher threat level over 2019 to certain targets inside of Jordan. I know from a military perspective we’ve been on a higher alert state for proxies possibly targeting Perelman: So not ISIS, you’re talking about Iranian proxies? King Abdullah II: Yes, that has been a concern. Luckily, nothing has happened, but again Perelman: There have been attempts. King Abdullah II: Not attempts; there has been when we say higher state of level, because we hear chatter that there are targets in Jordan, and as a result, we’ve had to react accordingly, so that we can be prepared for anything. Nothing has happened. But again, I think we have to get the discussion back that dialogue by all of us, because any miscalculation for any side creates a problem for all of us, and all of us end up paying the price. Perelman: Iran obviously you mentioned the Iran crescent several years ago; Iran’s role in the region being a power player, but at the same time, we’ve seen protests inside Iran brutally repressed against price hikes. We’re now seeing again protests because of the downing of the King Abdullah II: The tragedy of the loss of the aircraft Perelman: Ukrainian jetliner, so there seems to be a disconnect Iran projecting power, but isn’t the Iranian regime very fragile? King Abdullah II: Well, and I’m glad that you said I think when I had mentioned that statement many years ago, I said the Shiite crescent, but more, I think, realistically, it’s the Iranian crescent that has obviously its reach not only in Iraq and Syria and Lebanon, which has been an issue that we’ve all had to deal with, and we have all seen the internal challenges that the Iranian people have had. And I think that the economy is difficult. It is a stress on the regime, and I think, like all of us in the region, we have the largest youth cohort in history that all want a great opportunity at life and stability, and so all of us are having to deal with how do we deal with the economy internally to give people a better life. And that’s a major challenge, I believe, for Iran and the Iranian people, who deserve, the Iranian people, a chance at a good life and prosperity. Perelman: Just briefly, Sultan Qaboos of Oman just died, and he was, in a way, he was at some point a channel between Iran and the United States. Will this be someone missing even more due to the current circumstances? King Abdullah II: Absolutely. His late Majesty the Sultan was an icon. There was a tremendous friendship between His late Majesty King Hussein and the late Sultan. I was very fortunate to have inherited that friendship. And His Majesty was known for being a neutral voice, a voice of reason and a leader that actually brought people together, specifically, I think, that he was a strong conduit between Iran, the Arab world, and the international community. I am fully convinced that Oman will continue to play that positive role, but definitely, he was one of those, sort of the last generation of leaders that we have all terribly missed, and I think the world will miss the ability that the Sultan had to bring nations together. Perelman: I want to get to the Israel-Palestine issue; Benyamin Netanyahu has said he wants to annex the West Bank or large parts of the West Bank. The Israeli government is taking steps to do so; the US government has changed its policy two months ago regarding settlements. It says now it doesn’t violate international law. You warned that there would be "severe consequences" if this annexation happens, what do you mean by severe consequences, could this be downgrading or severing diplomatic ties? King Abdullah II: Well, Jordan is strategically committed to the peace between Jordan and Israel, and that is a major element of stability in the region. We understand, unfortunately, that the issue of elections that have been going on for over a year means that there is Israel looking inwards as it’s dealing with its domestic issues. And as a result, our relationship is on pause. We hope that the Israeli people will decide on a government sooner rather than later, and then we can all see how to move forward. The two-state solution in my mind, and I know in the majority of European countries, is the only way forward. The one-staters that are pushing their agenda makes no sense to me whatsoever, because there is two standards there, two sets of laws for two sets of people. That can only create instability, and the only way that we are going to move forward is stability for the Middle East, and the only way you can do that is stability between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Perelman: What if Israel does annex the West Bank? What steps would you consider? King Abdullah II: So again, this is what I’m saying. Israel, there is a certain rhetoric coming out of Israel, because of the election politics, which is creating tremendous concern to all of us in the region, because they’re moving way often to a direction that is completely uncharted territory for all of us, and can only create more instability and miscommunications. From the Jordanian perspective, the relationship is important; moving dialogue back between the Israelis and Palestinians is essential, and moving the dialogue back between Israel and Jordan, which has been on pause for the past two years is essential. We have to wait to see what the Israeli people decide. Perelman: The 25-year-old relation, is it at an all-time low? King Abdullah II: Because of the electioneering season, which unfortunately is taking a long time, there has been no bilateral communications or movement that has affected. And so, when you have certain announcements and decisions, like you said the West Bank, creates a lot of doubt in many of us on where are certain Israeli politicians going and Perelman: Starting with the Prime Minster King Abdullah II: Well again, the West Bank is an issue that has tremendous, I think, negativity towards the Israeli-Jordanian relationship. We need to have a better understanding of where that is going. So let’s see what happens with the Israeli elections and once there is a government formed that is stable, we can then look how to move forward. Perelman: What about Donald Trump’s deal of the century? He promised it; we’ve seen the embassy move to Jerusalem; we’ve seen the shift on the settlements. The Palestinian Authority is not talking to the Trump administration. The Palestinians, and I put it bluntly, believe that actually instead of delivering the deal of the century, Donald Trump is in cahoots with Benyamin Netanyahu to bury the two-state solution. Do you still believe in this deal of the century or? King Abdullah II: So, I’ve had numerous discussions with President Trump on this issue. I think he understands what is needed to bring Israelis and Palestinians together Perelman: But he’s not doing it. King Abdullah II: Well, I think that we are waiting for the plan to be unveiled by the team, and as a result, that has been a grey area for all of us, because unless we know what the plan is, and again, here is the role that not only Jordan and the regional countries play, but with the Europeans how do we look at the plan once it’s announced, and I think it will be announced. Perelman: Before the US elections? King Abdullah II: I’m not too sure when they’re going to do it, but we keep hearing that sometime soon, the plan will be presented. Our job then is to look at the glass half-full. How do we build on the plan and how do we build it in such a way we bring the Israelis and Palestinians together. And so the problem is, it’s difficult for us to make decisions on the plan when we don’t really know what it is. And that’s not a problem just for Jordan, but for our European friends. I know that we will be discussing this in Europe this week. So we are supportive of bringing the Israelis and Palestinians together, but we need to have the plan unveiled for us to be able to see it from a point of view of the glass half-full. Perelman: Right. I want to get to Syria quickly, because I don’t have much time left. Bashar Al Assad seems to have won. Why not admit it? And in your case, there’s talk, I’ve heard of re-establishing full diplomatic relations between Jordan and Syria. King Abdullah II: Well, I think there’s a reality on the ground that you have just alluded to. And I think the international community looks at it from that is a reality. The regime is in a much stronger position. There is still a long way to go, and again, I think we have to continue to remember not only as how do the Syrian regime moves on the issues of constitution and a new governance, keeping in mind that there is still a second part of Syria, which is the war against ISIS, which I’ve just mentioned earlier, is back on the rise again. So we are working as part of the international community to make sure that the political and constitutional status is moving in the right direction. I don’t think that is going to be a quick fix. And then you have the immense challenge of rebuilding Syria and giving an opportunity to the lives of all Syrians. So this is something that we’re going to be at for quite a while. But as you alluded to, there is a reality on the ground that we have to deal with, and I think that reality doesn’t mean that they get off scot free; the reality is that we all have to talk together to make sure that the endgame is what we’ve all agreed upon, and that is the new constitution and the new life for Syria. Perelman: So full diplomatic relations is on the horizon? King Abdullah II: So, from the Jordanian perspective, we are in discussions with Damascus, but a lot of countries around the world are moving in that direction based on an international understanding of where Syria is going. Perelman: Obviously, Syria has been a big issue for Jordan. An estimated 1.3 million Syrians are in Jordan. The main border crossing has been reopened, but only a trickle is going back essentially in Syria, so they are here to stay. Europe, you’re going there, Europe wrote a big cheque to Recep Tayyip Erdogan to keep the refugees in Turkey. It hasn’t done so with Jordan far from it. I mean, have you been let down by the international community? King Abdullah II: Because we do not threaten Europe by pushing refugees towards Europe because we think that is a responsibility that should be taken care of by us in the area. Having said that, I mean, last year was probably the least supportive year for Jordan, we have to borrow from the international community to house and look after and care for an increase of 20 per cent of our population. Imagine any European country that has just the increase of 10 percent of their population. So we are frustrated. We are thankful there’s a lot of countries that do help us, but at the end of the day, the burden is on the Jordanians to put all these Syrians in school, to look after their health, housing. It has been a tremendous struggle for us to move, and we’re, sorry to continue this, being let down for doing the right thing. We are saving Europe tremendous amount of pressure by looking after the refugees in our country. Perelman: Are you hoping to get some commitments from Europe on this trip? King Abdullah II: So the European leaders understand the challenges of Jordan, and many of them are extremely supportive of Jordan, and we are very grateful. And I’m sure there will be discussions on supporting but again, part of the reality of life is there is donor fatigue, there is refugee fatigue, and Jordan suffers as a result. Perelman: Just as a last question; we’ve seen recently in Algeria and in Sudan long-serving presidents being pushed aside. We’ve seen in Iraq, we mentioned it. In Lebanon, the prime minister is being pushed out by protests against bad governance, corruption and so on. This hasn’t happened here. I know you’ve said many times that what keeps you up at night is providing a future for the young Jordanians. Do you fear that something similar might happen here unless the international community and reforms are being implemented? King Abdullah II: Well, I think the discussions that we’re having in Europe is to again highlight that the region needs 60 million jobs for young people over the next several years, and if we don’t find an opportunity for young people this is an issue around the world. So you’ve seen demonstrations not just in the Middle East, but in Europe and elsewhere. But we have to work together to give those opportunities to young people, because if we don’t, then instability will continue to be on the rise. So, as I keep saying, it does keep me up at night, because we do want a better life for Jordan. We are stuck in a very difficult neighbourhood, as you alluded to, the Syrian refugees have been a tremendous burden on us. We have a good recovery plan. The government is coming out with packages to move the economy in the right direction. We’re seeing that, but we do need more support from our international friends to be able to make sure that at least Jordan is a model moving in the right direction, but as you alluded to, many other countries are dealing with the same problems in the Middle East.

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Experimental supply of natural gas by U.S.-based Noble Energy starts- says NEPCO

[1/1/2020 6:19:37 AM]

AMMONNEWS - National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) said that the experimental supply of natural gas by U.S.-based Noble Energy Inc. has started as of today. The experimental pumping, which will last three months, is aimed at testing the infrastructure prior to the actual commercial supply, NEPCO said. The gas supply is in line with an agreement signed between the two companies in 2016. Under the agreement, Noble Energy will provide gas worth 15 billion dollars to the Kingdom for a period of 15 years, or 300 million cubic feet on a daily basis.

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Jordanians pressure government to end imprisonment of debtors

[12/31/2019 8:58:37 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Jordanian lawmakers are calling on the government to amend laws that allow for the imprisonment of indebted people who are insolvent despite international treaties. Mutaz Abu Rumman, one of the 100 members of the Lower House who signed a petition in July to amend the penal code and the judicial execution law, told Al-Monitor that over 250,000 Jordanians inside the kingdom and abroad are wanted for failing to pay debts or for writing bad checks. Thousands of others have been jailed on similar charges. The number of insolvent individuals and businesses has been on the rise in recent years due to worsening economic conditions, with unemployment currently standing at 19.5% and absolute poverty across the kingdom estimated at more than 15%. Activists and families of indebted people staged a protest near the royal court on Dec. 21 — one of many in recent months — calling for the abrogation of an article in the judicial execution law that allows a creditor to demand that an indebted person be imprisoned unless a settlement that meets certain requirements is reached. An indebted person can be imprisoned multiple times if repayment is not made. Saleh al-Armouti, another lawmaker who signed the petition, told Al-Monitor that at least 300 major merchants have fled the kingdom this year alone because they have become insolvent and now face arrest warrants. Armouti and Abu Rumman want the government to amend the penal code was enacted in 1960 to prevent the imprisonment of debtors, with the exception of cases of fraud, while preserving the rights of creditors. Lawmakers and activists argue that the imprisonment of indebted people has adverse social impacts and fails to resolve issues. Abu Rumman said that thousands of families suffer when the head of the family is jailed for failing to pay a debt. The problem has become so acute that activists have launched an online campaign in December called “Be generous and forgive,” calling on creditors to write off debts, especially for poor families. Many debtors owe money to banks for small loans or to merchants for goods they had bought on credit. Armouti said that official figures indicate that there are 14,500 women who are in default of their debts, many of whom are already behind bars. In March of this year, King Abdullah called for a national campaign to help indebted Jordanian women who had taken out loans to support their families. In response, the Ministry of Awqaf stated on March 24 that 5,672 women whose debts are less than 1,000 Jordanian dinars ($1,400) are expected to benefit from the public campaign, which had raised 2.5 million dinars ($3.5 million). And on March 30, the Zakat Fund, which is part of the Ministry of Awqaf, announced that the king would cover the debts of 1,500 women who have mostly borrowed from microfinance funds and other lenders. But such initiatives are not enough to resolve what is becoming a national crisis, according to Abu Rumman. He said that the government must move to amend the laws so that insolvent people are not treated as criminals. “This year alone an estimated 650 million Jordanian dinars [$900 million] worth of bad checks have been reported,” he said. Under the penal code, a person accused of writing a bad check could face a year in jail, but the sentence does not erase the debt. Head of public liberties and human rights at the Bar Association Walid al-Udwan told Al-Monitor that a formula must be found that protects lenders’ rights under the law while preventing the imprisonment of those who are unable to pay. “The current situation threatens social stability while failing to resolve the issue,” he said. But the government has been resistant to public pressure. On Nov. 17, Minister of Justice Bassam al-Talhouni announced that an amended draft of the judicial execution law is being studied and will be sent to the Lower House. But he failed to mention whether the article allowing for the imprisonment of indebted people will be revised. In May 2018, parliament passed the insolvency law, which enables individuals and companies to reorganize their businesses under deals reached with creditors. It also failed to address the imprisonment of indebted individuals under the penal code and the judicial execution law. Head of the Legislation and Opinion Bureau, which drafts and amends laws on behalf of the government, Fida al-Hmoud told Al-Monitor that the government is studying a proposal to revise current laws that allow for the imprisonment of individuals for writing bad checks or for failing to pay creditors. “We are talking to experts and looking at case studies in other countries,” she said. But she did not give a time frame. She blamed some creditors who give out loans with no collateral. “Unfortunately, the only collateral in such case is the threat of prison for failing to pay,” Hmoud added. Meanwhile, Armouti said thousands of Jordanians have fled the country to avoid prison while those who can’t are either in hiding or lingering in jail without a solution. *Al-monitor

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Electrical equipment of Israel-Jordan gas line torched

[12/29/2019 10:14:07 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Two electrical transformers servicing a gas transfer station intended to transport gas from the Leviathan natural gas field in Israel into Jordan were torched by unidentified people in Irbid in northern Jordan on Saturday. According to Sky News Arabia, this is not the first attack against the gas transfer station in Irbid. Gas flow through the station is expected to start in the next few days. Jordanian citizens and politicians have protested the planned transfer of gas between the two nations. On Sunday, Jordan's parliament filed an urgent memo, requesting that a law be drafted to ban the import of gas from Israel, according to Asharq Al-Awsat. Dozens of activists held a protest in front of the parliament, calling for a cancellation of the gas trade deal. Jordan’s National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) signed a 15-year agreement with Noble Energy to purchase $10 billion worth of natural gas in September 2016. The Constitutional Court in Jordan ruled that the deal doesn't need to be approved by the Jordanian parliament. In March, the Jordanian House of Representatives declared its "utter rejection" of the deal and requested that it be "canceled at any cost." In July, Jordanian parliamentarian Tariq Khoury called on Jordanians to "sign a code of honor to blow up the gas pipeline from Israel to the land of Jordan," according to the Palestinian Quds news agency. "Every free man in Jordan must sacrifice himself and his children to blow up a gas line that passes through Jordanian territory, we are all martyrs of the project," said Khoury in a speech during a press conference to reveal details about the gas agreement. The Jordanian parliamentarian spoke on the sidelines of a press conference held by MP Saleh Al-Armounti revealing information about the gas agreement and discussing "misinformation" by the Jordanian government about the deal. Israel has made agreements to export natural gas to both Jordan and Egypt. The first natural gas pipeline from Israel to Jordan was constructed in the Sodom area by the Dead Sea in 2017, aiming to supply gas from the Tamar reservoir to private customers in Jordan. A second pipeline planned for the Beit Shean area is due to supply gas from the Leviathan reservoir to NEPCO. *JP

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Synchronized Israeli attacks on Jordan, King Abdullah

[12/28/2019 4:21:47 AM]

AMMONNEWS - A series of anti-Jordanian articles appeared almost simultaneously in the Israeli media targeting Jordan and revealing deep Israeli anger and hatred for the Jordanian monarch. The articles appear to be based on a single source and they all reached the same conclusion. The independent daily Haaretz revealed that “Israel has big plans for Jordan, but they don’t include King Abdullah II.” The paper said that “a long list of articles by right-wing commentators, PR hacks for the government, were published over the past month in media (Caroline Glick in Israel Hayom, Aryeh Eldad in Maariv, Motti Karpel in Makor Rishon and others), raised similar arguments and identical conclusions.” Smadar Perry a respected writer on Arab affairs for the widest circulating daily Yediot Aharonot told Arab News that Israelis are “divided and some are acting in a crazy way.” She said that while the anti-Jordan idea was born long before the latest anti-Israeli positions of Jordan, things are spinning out of control because of the elections. “These (anti-Jordan) ideas have been with us before, but because of the elections people will hear many crazy ideas.” Israel’s Herut party under former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, which represented the core of what is now the Israeli Likud party was famous for an expansionist slogan that said: “The Jordan has two banks; this one is our and the other one too.” Perry told Arab News that the head of the Likud, Benjamin Netanyahu, only cares about himself. “Half of the Israelis don’t know what they want regarding Jordan, but they know they want Bibi (Netanyahu) and he is focused on the elections. He wants to win and he doesn’t care about Jordan.” Perry said that only the military people are doing their job and are trying to make some sense in Israeli foreign policy. Anees Sweidan, director of the Arab Affairs Department in the PLO, told Arab News that Palestine and Jordan are one in all political issues. “The incitement against Jordan reflects the chaos that Israel under the corrupt Netanyahu is experiencing.” Sweidan said that Jordan is being made to pay the political price for its consistent support to Palestine and rejection of the Israeli attempts to annex the Jordan Valley.” Hani Al-Masri, director general of the Masarat think tank in Ramallah, told Arab News that there are multiple reasons for the Israeli attacks on Jordan. “It is connected to Jordan’s recent statements and falls within the anti-Arab one-upmanship that has become the hallmark of Israeli elections both internal and national.” AlMasri said that Jordan’s strong opposition to the Israeli annexation plans is denying right-wing Israelis their dream” that Jordan will one day become Palestine.” Monjed Jado, publisher of the Palestine News Network and an observer of the Israeli political scene, told Arab News that right-wing Israelis are angry. “They were angry with the insistence of Jordan to have the two enclaves returned, but they were disappointed with the Americans whom they expected to put pressure on the King to be more supportive of Israel’s desires.” *Arab News

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Jordanian Parliament Opposes Buying Gas from Israel, but Receiving Free Water from Israel is OK

[12/24/2019 8:18:22 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Jordanian Members of Parliament (MP) are pushing for an urgent legislative initiative to repeal the agreement in which Israel will supply gas to the Hashemite Kingdom, ahead of the soon-to-be-launched natural gas pipeline between the two countries. A group of 58 MPs opposing the import of natural gas from Israel have signed a memorandum calling for urgent legislation to ban the implementation of the gas agreement between Israel and Jordan through the American Noble Energy Company. This initiative comes in light of the announcement by Jordan’s National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) that gas pumping experiments will soon begin on the new line, which installment ended recently and through which natural gas will flow from the Israeli Leviathan offshore field to the electric company’s facilities. The MPs claim that the agreement is not an economic one but a step with far-reaching political implications that consists of a normalization of relations between the two countries, and therefore NEPCO does not have the authority to sign such an agreement without a discussion in parliament. Officials in Jordan further claim that the US ambassador to the Kingdom pressured NEPCO into signing the agreement with Noble Energy without bringing it to Parliament for a preliminary hearing, working on the assumption that it would not have been approved there. The electric company and the government in Jordan are now facing severe criticism on social networks and are being accused of hiding information from the public, disguising the fact that the gas comes from Israel and even betraying the Jordanian people. Jordanian activists have launched a number of campaigns against the gas agreement with Israel, which they view as “forcing from above the normalization of prohibited relations with Israel.” The activists claim that the gas is stolen from the Palestinians by Israel and is now being sold to Jordan through US companies, with the government’s deliberate attempt to hide the fact that it comes from Israel. Social activists in Jordan claim that the gas purchase agreement is like a “Jordanian Nakba,” catastrophe in Arabic and a term used by the Palestinians to describe Israel’s independence, which is expected to enslave Jordan to Israel and “give the Zionists leverage,” along with the fact that the resulting economic gains will serve Israel’s economy and “Zionist occupation and terrorism.” Posters that read “The Enemy’s Gas – Occupation” and “Cancel the Gas Agreement ” have been distributed on dozens of social media pages and accounts across Jordan in recent days in opposition to laying an Israeli line on Jordanian soil. It should be noted that in the past, anti-Israel boycott organizations led the boycott of the gas deal between Israel and Jordan, claiming that tax profits would allow Israel to arm itself with advanced weapons against the Palestinians. The activists are also calling on Egyptian citizens to act to cancel the agreement so that Jordan can purchase gas from Arab sources, such as Egypt, Algeria and Iraq. Jordan claims that when it signed the agreement, Egyptian gas was not available for export. The agreement was signed in 2016 for 15 years, during which Noble Energy will provide 45 billion cubic meters worth $10 billion. NEPCO says it will save Jordan $300 and that its repeal will result in huge fines of $1.4 billion. Senior energy officials told TPS that the agreement between Israel and Jordan is the best for Jordan’s economy out of a range of options and, at the same time, it guarantees Jordan’s security of gas supply on Israel’s part. The gas pipeline passes through Jordan for about 40 km and connects to the pan-Arab pipeline in Jordan, which was previously connected to Syria. According to the experts, it is clear that this is a top-notch Jordanian economic interest, and that is why Jordan will have to decide between the economic interest and the protest over its engagement with the Israeli gas field. Ayman Khuniti, a Jordanian commentator on Israeli affairs, told TPS that this issue has been going on for too long due to communication shortfalls between the government and parliament. Now, he says, MPs are seeking to find out who is the mediator between Noble Energy and the government and the Jordanian electric company, who will be responsible for paying the expected fines from canceling the agreement, who paid for the land expropriation on which the pipeline was placed. Khuniti estimates that this could develop into another crisis between Israel and Jordan, as relations have been extremely fragile since in any case. According to him, the opponents of the gas agreement include not only the Muslim Brotherhood but political activists from different streams, social activists and members of various parties, and the social networks reflect the negative mood on Jordanian street well. Noble Energy said it did not wish to comment on the report. The Jordanian MPs did not discuss rejecting the free water they receive from Israel every year. *jewish press

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FM, UNRWA commissioner underline mutual partnership

[12/18/2019 7:26:15 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Ayman Safadi, discussed on Wednesday with the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Christian Saunders the "firm" partnership between the Kingdom and the Agency in efforts to drum up support for the relief organization. In the consultative meeting, the FM and Saunders also discussed steps to develop a joint work program to contact international donors to ensure that the necessary funding is provided for the Agency's budget for the coming year to enable it to continue providing its vital services to Palestinian refugees. Safadi and Saunders reviewed the Agency's financial situation 2019 and ways to bridge the remaining deficit from this year's budget. Safadi stressed the need to provide the necessary support to bridge the current deficit, hoping that the remaining financing will be paid from the support that has been pledged so that the agency can provide its services. Saunders appreciated Jordan's efforts to mobilize international support for the agency in implementation of the directives of His Majesty King Abdullah II. In his speech yesterday at Global Refugee Forum held in Geneva, Safadi thanked the friendly and brotherly countries for their support to UNRWA. He called on the international community to continue to enable the agency to serve more than five million Palestinian refugees, according to its UN mandate, which the General Assembly has voted this month in favor of renewing it by an overwhelming majority of 169 votes against two voting against renewal. In another meeting, mobilizing support to UNRWA figured high during Safadi's discussions with Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag on the sidelines of the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva today. Safadi thanked the Dutch Minister for her country's fulfillment to disburse the aid it had announced to the agency after Amsterdam had previously frozen due to an investigation into administrative violations raised on the agency's work and ended up confirming that there are no financial violations in the UNRWA work. He appreciated the Netherlands' commitment to support UNRWA and its mandate. Safadi and Kaag said the two countries will continue to work to develop bilateral relations, especially in the economic and investment fields, and support development programs in the Kingdom. The two ministers also discussed developments in the region, at the forefront is the Palestinian issue, efforts to solve the Syrian crisis and cooperation in facing the burdens of the Syrian refugee crisis.

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