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Israel 'playing politics' over Jordan's extra water request

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A man in the Jordan River in the Jordan Valley near Bardala, West Bank, on December 23, 2013. (Photo: NYTimes)
Jordan has requested an additional 8 million cubic meters of water from Israel, on top of its share under the peace treaty between the two countries, but the approval is yet to come around, with reports claiming the approval is being held back. اضافة اعلان

Officials from the Ministry of Water and Irrigation are in talks with their Israeli peers over the request, which observers believe it has been delayed for political reasons.

Officials contacted by Jordan News declined to comment on the issue.
In a report published earlier this week in Haaretz, which was translated and circulated widely among Jordanians, the Israeli daily described the situation as a "potential crisis." Pundits and former officials seem to agree with this analysis.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is tarrying in his response to a Jordanian request for water from Israel, a request made due to water shortages in the kingdom," Haaretz reported.

The Kingdom, one of the most water-poor countries in the world, faced a relatively dry winter this year, which is expected to add strain on the Kingdom’s water sector and impact agricultural production.

Munther Haddadin, a senior negotiator during the Israeli-Jordanian peace talks in 1994, told Jordan News that “this is not an Israel-Jordan problem, but a Netanyahu-Jordan problem."

"I am not surprised, Netanyahu has been belligerent towards Jordan … This has to do with his political survival,” Haddadin added.

Netanyahu “would do anything to stay prime minister and avoid being convicted of corruption crimes," added Haddadin, who met with Netanyahu last in 2006.

The Israeli leader is facing multiple charges of corruption, according to Reuters

This is not the first instance that Jordan has requested additional water from Israel, and previous requests were processed ‘smoothly’,” Oraib Al Rantawi, director of Al-Quds Center for Political Studies, told Jordan News.

Former minister of foreign affairs Jawad Anani described the latest spat as "a sequel in an already hostile scene."

Anani noted that the Israeli premiere “has spared no chance to provoke Jordan ... this could be related to a potential fifth round of elections where he needs to gain as many votes from the Israeli far right as possible."

Israel’s fourth elections in two years ended in a stalemate once more, according to Reuters, and the country could face yet another poll.

According to Rantawi, The Israeli prime minister "is trying to prove to his supporters that Jordan needs Israel and not the other way around," following heightened tensions between the Kingdom and Israel earlier this month related to disruptions of a planned visit by HRH Crown Prince Hussein to occupied Jerusalem by occupation authorities.

In response, Jordan denied Netanyahu overflight permission for his flight to the UAE, which he had to postpone.

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told CNN earlier this month, addressing Israel: “You renege on an agreement with Jordan, you disrupt a religious visit, you create conditions that made this religious visit on a holy occasion impossible, and then you expect to come to Jordan and fly out of Jordan? Let’s be serious here.”

In 2019, His Majesty King Abdullah told DW news that "peace between Jordan and Israel is at an all-time low."

Jordan received an estimated 5,185.8 million cubic meters of rainwater this season, representing only 63.3 percent of the Kingdom’s annual average rainfall, according to Minister of Water and Irrigation Mohammad Najjar.

“Jordan faced limited rainfall during the 2021 season, bearing in mind that we are one of the most water scarce countries in the world,” the minister told Jordan News.

As the winter season nears its end, dams across the Kingdom are holding around 146 million cubic meters of water, representing 43.4 percent of their total capacity. This relatively dry winter is expected to add strain on the Kingdom’s water sector and impact agricultural production.