In the 2 years since the National Electric Power Company (NEPC) of Jordan 1st signed (9/3/2014) a letter of intent to import natural gas from the international consortium of companies contracted by Israel to develop its offshore Leviathan natural gas field, the proposed deal had been bogged down in Israeli bureaucracy and drawn heavy criticism from both the Jordanian and Palestinian people. This quarter, however, Israel and the NEPC made the $10-b. deal official on 9/26 to outcries of protest in Jordanian activist circles. The NEPC is set to import around 45 b. m3 of natural gas over a period of 15 years once the field starts producing.
Although the NEPC claimed that the deal would save Jordan $600 m. per year, and Jordan’s industry minister said that Amman was demanding that the Israeli govt. allow more Jordanian exports in the West Bank and subsidize the cost of a gas pipeline as a corollary to the deal, the announcement sparked a renewed swell of criticism in Jordan. Opponents of the deal complained that it would make Jordan dependent on Israel and effectively reinforce the Israeli occupation. Dozens of Jordanians protested outside the NEPC’s headquarters in Amman after the deal was announced, and thousands more joined the protests as they spread from the capital to the rest of the country on 9/28 and 9/29. The Islamic Action Front, which had won 15 seats in Jordan’s parliament earlier in 9/2016, urged (9/26) the govt. to cancel the deal, and Jordan BDS, a local chapter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, said (9/27) that “signing this agreement blatantly ignores the will of the Jordanian people who principally and unequivocally rejected the agreement through 2 years of demonstrations across the country, national petitions signed by Jordanians and their political parties, trade unions and civil society organizations.”