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Activists to mark 1st anniversary of Israel gas deal with protest on Friday

By Sawsan Tabazah - Sep 27,2017 - Last updated at Sep 27,2017

AMMAN — Activists are scheduled to march in protest  on Friday  to denounce the Israeli gas deal on its first anniversary, organisers said.

Hisham Bustami, director of the Jordanian National Campaign Against the Gas Agreement with the Zionist Entity, told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday that the march will be held under the slogan "Funding the Zionists with $10 billion rather than developing Jordan" and urged the public to join them in condemning "the national shame".

In September 2016, the National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) has signed a 15-year agreement with Noble Energy, a Houston-based company that holds the largest share in the Israeli Leviathan gas field, to receive natural gas supplies at the cost of $10 billion.

NEPCO officials previously told The Jordan Times that the gas deal with Noble Energy would “save Jordan up to $600 million each year”. 

The campaign said in a statement that decision makers have been "insisting on wasting billions earned from the pockets of Jordanians who pay high taxes at a time when alternative energy solutions are available".

"Jordan has self-sufficiency in gas", which is imported from Egypt through the port in Aqaba and the government could invest the billions from the Israeli gas deal in building wind and solar energy stations, the statement said, stressing that the Energy Ministry’s recent strategy has shown that the Kingdom's reliance on gas "will decrease in the coming years".

MP Qais Ziadeen, who took part in the press conference, stressed that the deal exposes Jordan to "threats" through putting the Kingdom “under the mercy of Israel that is considered an enemy, not a friend”. 

Ziadeen said Jordanians have the right to be informed about the deal, the terms and conditions of which are still unknown to the public. MPs also demanded further discussion of the deal under the Dome. 

The Energy Ministry promised to hand in a copy of the deal to the parliamentary energy committee after translating it into Arabic, but this promise was made four months ago and is yet to be realised, MP Saleh Armouti told The Jordan Times. 

The president of the Lower House’s Legal Committee, Mustafa Khasawneh, told The Jordan Times that there has been a delay on the government's part to pass the deal onto the parliamentary committee, which still needs to study the constitutional, legal, technical and economic terms of the contract. 

Khasawneh said that the gas deal is on the Lower House agenda and is scheduled to be discussed at the next ordinary session, which will start in October. 

Among Jordanians who have called on their right to know about the deal, Muayad Majali said he has requested information from the board which allows Jordanians access to public information.

Majali, whose request was denied, decided to appeal to the administrative court, which requested bringing the documents to court, lawyer Sanaa Ashqar, a member of the anti-gas deal campaign who has been working on the case, said in previous remarks. 

 “In today’s [Tuesday] morning session at the court, the government’s representative said that documents about the agreement are secret and are not allowed to be shown to the public,” Ashqar said, noting that the lawyers have appealed the decision. 

 

Armouti, who attended the court session, said that such cases might put pressure on the government to reveal the terms and conditions of the deal to the public. 

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