AMMAN: Israel has approved a Jordanian request to supply additional water to the kingdom in a move described as a goodwill gesture from Israel’s new government.
The move follows a rift in relations between the countries under the premiership of the former long-term leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to Israeli media, new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has given his initial agreement to the sale of 50 million cubic meters of water to resource-poor Jordan, one of the most water-scarce countries in the world.
Netanyahu had delayed approving Jordan’s request for water supplies, the Israeli media has reported, amid tension over Jerusalem, Israeli plans to annex the Jordan Valley and the kingdom’s refusal to allow Netanyahu to overfly its airspace.
The request was submitted through the joint Jordanian-Israeli water committee, established after the 1994 peace deal between the countries, Israeli reports said.
The Jordanian government has not officially commented on the reports, saying there has been no announcement yet from the Israeli government.
However, a Jordanian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Arab News that by 2022 Israel will be selling Jordan an additional 50 million cubic meters of water to be pumped from the Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee) into the kingdom.
The official said the additional water supply is supposed to be a “routine procedure” stipulated in the 1994 Wadi Araba Peace Treaty under which Israel committed to provide Jordan with 55 million cubic meters of water a year.
“But the provision on water allocation has been misused by Netanyahu,” the official added.
“So, yes, this additional water supply will help alleviate much of our water concerns for this year.”
In April, Jordan confirmed it had received an additional quantity of 8 million cubic meters from Israel which, Israeli media said, was spurred by pressure from the administration of US President Joe Biden.
Meanwhile, Jordan’s ministry of water and irrigation has warned of severe drought this summer due to low rainfall through winter. Water storage in Jordan’s 10 major dams is 80 million cubic meters lower than last year, according to official estimates.
Jordan is the second-largest refugee host per capita worldwide, according to UNHCR, with roughly 750,000 refugees, and is also classified as the second most water-scarce country in the world.