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Friday march planned against Israel gas deal

By Merza Noghai - Mar 04,2015 - Last updated at Mar 04,2015

AMMAN — Members of the Jordanian National Campaign to Thwart the Gas Deal with the Zionist Entity on Wednesday announced that they will organise a demonstration on Friday to pressure the government not to sign the agreement.

The march is scheduled to start at 1pm from the Professional Associations Complex and end at the Prime Ministry at the 4th Circle, with the participation of around 27 political parties, professional associations and popular movements, Hisham Bustani, the coordinator of the campaign, said at a press conference to announce the rally.

“There will be other demonstrations in the Irbid, Zarqa, Karak, Madaba and Maan governorates at the same time as Friday’s march to protest the deal,” Bustani told reporters at the Jordanian Women’s Union (JWU).

He expressed the campaign’s objection to buying “stolen” Palestinian gas from Israel, and its condemnation of the Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Project deal, signed with Israel late last week, since these agreements “will put the country under the control of the Zionist entity”.

JWU President Tahani Shakhshir, also a campaign member, said signing a gas deal with Israel supports the occupation, and called for cancelling the Wadi Araba peace agreement with Israel.

In September 2014, the state-owned National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) signed a letter of intent with Noble Energy, which owns 39 per cent of the Leviathan natural gas field in Israel, to buy gas over a period of 15 years — starting late in 2017 — at a total cost of $15 billion.

MP Rula Hroub, also a campaign member, called on people to join the demonstration to deliver a message to the government that Jordanians are against the deal.

The government has several available alternatives, and does not have to sign the deal, Hroub said, referring to the liquefied natural gas terminal and the nearly ready liquefied petroleum gas terminal in Aqaba.

“By 2017, the government will have finished its economic reform programme, completed raising electricity prices and addressed NEPCO’s losses, which provides it with other options than the deal with Israel,” she said.

Hroub added that the Lower House has always called on the government to consider renewable energy resources, noting that natural gas will be available at lower prices, with the total international investment volume during the next five years expected to reach around $270 billion.

Retired colonel Salem Khudeir, a campaign member, said the deal would provide Israel with extra money to finance aggressive practices against Palestinians and build illegal colonies.

“Israel’s purpose... is to legitimise its occupation and ownership of Palestine’s resources, in addition to reduce reliance on US support,” Khudeir said, arguing that the deal affects Jordan’s sovereignty.

The deal, if signed, will cost the country $15 billion, $8 billion of which will be paid by Jordanian taxpayers.

Ahmad Merei, vice president of the federation of independent labour unions and a campaign member, suggested relying on renewable energy resources such as solar energy, especially since the Kingdom has more than 300 sunny days in the year.

He also noted that Jordan’s shale oil reserves are enough to produce 800 billion barrels, a number that equals the oil reserves of a country like Iraq.

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