AMMAN: Jordan, Israel, and the UAE on Monday signed a declaration of intent to begin deliberations over the feasibility of an energy-for-water project.
Omar Salameh, spokesperson of the Jordanian Water Ministry said that the signing of the declaration was “neither a technical nor legal agreement” and it only means that the three sides will start the feasibility studies for the mega project as of the beginning of 2022.
Stopping short from giving further details, Salameh only said that resource-poor Jordan is to receive 200 million cubic meters of water annually under the project, adding that the joint venture will not be implemented without obtaining the stipulated amount of water.
The spokesperson explained that Jordan is among the poorest countries in the world for water, with a water deficit expected to hit 45 million cubic meters in 2022. He added that Jordan’s annual water resources are less than 80 cubic meters per person, below the international threshold of 500 cubic meters per person.
Salameh also said that Jordan obtains a total of 35 million cubic meters of water from Israel under the 1994 Wadi Araba Peace Treaty and another 10 million cubic meters outside the peace deal between the two countries.
Jordan signed an agreement with Israel in October to purchase an additional 50 million cubic meters of water outside the framework of the peace agreement and what it stipulates in regard to water quantities.
In a recent report, the US news website Axios said that a massive solar farm in the Jordanian desert under the project that will generate clean energy to be sold to Israel in return for desalinated water.
According to Axios, the solar farm will be built by the UAE government-owned alternative energy company, Masdar.
The plan calls for the solar farm to be operational by 2026 and will be designed to produce 2 percent of Israel’s energy by 2030, with Israel paying $180 million per year — divided between the Jordanian government and the Emirati company.
Axios also claimed that the project has been pushed by US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.
Jordanian Ammon news website said that the declaration of intent was signed on Monday by Jordanian Minister of Water and Irrigation Mohammad Najjar, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment Mariam Al Mheiri, and Israel’s Energy Minister Karine Elharrar on the sidelines of Expo 2020 Dubai.
The signing ceremony was attended by Kerry and Sultan Al-Jaber, the UAE’s minister for industry and advanced technology and the special envoy for climate change, according to the website.