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Lower House passes bill to scrap import of Israeli gas

By JT - Jan 19,2020 - Last updated at Jan 19,2020

Lawmakers are seen voting in support of a draft law that bans the import of Israeli gas to the Kingdom during a Lower House session on Sunday (Petra photo)

AMMAN — In a majority vote, the Lower House on Sunday passed a draft law that bans the import of Israeli gas to the Kingdom, proposed by the Chamber's Legal Committee. 

MPs approved referring the bill to the government as a matter of urgency, according to Lower House Speaker Atef Tarawneh, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

As Jordan and Israel have a peace treaty, the endorsement of legislation should be in accordance with the Constitution, Tarawneh said.

For his part, MP Abdulminem Oudat, head of the Lower House's Legal Panel, said that the proposed law is the first by the current Lower House and follows a House memorandum that was presented to the speaker, who referred it to the committee.

Oudat noted that the proposed law bans the government, including its ministries, departments and companies, from importing gas from Israel.

The Chamber had earlier unanimously called on the government not to import Israeli gas, Petra added.

In December, a group of MPs requested that an “urgent” draft law be formulated to ban the import of Israeli gas to the Kingdom. In the request, submitted to the Lower House speaker, a total of 58 deputies demanded that a law be written scrapping the gas deal with Israel.

In September 2016, NEPCO signed a 15-year agreement with Noble Energy, a Houston-based company that holds the largest share in the Israeli Leviathan Gas Field, to purchase $10 billion worth of natural gas.

In December, NEPCO announced the start of experimental gas pumping from Noble Energy under the agreement.

The experimental pumping, which began on January 1, will continue for three months, with the aim of testing the infrastructure’s readiness before actual pumping begins.

Also on Sunday, the House turned down draft laws regarding the judiciary’s independence, development of the Jordan Valley and the Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority, according to Petra. 

The mandating reasons for the three bills transfer some of the authorities of the Cabinet to the concerned ministers so as to evenly distribute the workload of the Council of Ministers, facilitate procedures and “give the Cabinet more time to focus on strategic work”.

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