May 19, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel Renews Water-Sharing Agreement With Jordan Despite Strained Bilateral Ties

May 19, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel Renews Water-Sharing Agreement With Jordan Despite Strained Bilateral Ties

Latest Developments

Israel renewed its water-sharing agreement with Jordan on May 16 for six months. The Jewish state has transferred fresh water to Jordan for 30 years under the terms of the two countries’ 1994 peace agreement. In July 2021, Israel agreed to double the amount of water it supplies annually to the Hashemite Kingdom an agreement that expired this year. The agreement’s renewal comes despite several months of demonizing rhetoric against Israel over the ongoing war in Gaza by senior Jordanian officials.

Expert Analysis

“The Hashemite Kingdom remains caught between its urge to excoriate Israel, on the one hand, and to safeguard its own interests, on the other. Israel is not only crucial for Jordan to receive water. Israel is at the forefront of the battle with Iran, a country which continues to challenge Jordanian security in a variety of ways. Jordan must arrive at the conclusion, sooner or later, that Israel is key to its own survival. Amman’s acerbic rhetoric must change.” Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

“Jordan continues to wage a non-stop political warfare campaign against Israel, amplifying Hamas propaganda and inciting violence. This looks like a not-so-subtle way for Israel to remind Amman that the kingdom’s security and stability depend in large part on Israel — even while the Jewish state bears the king and queen’s political assaults.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

Trilateral Water-For-Energy Deal

On March 3, Jordan asked Israel for a one-year extension on a separate water-for-energy deal reached in 2021 that also includes the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The agreement envisioned Israel doubling its freshwater exports to Jordan in exchange for energy from a UAE-sponsored solar farm in the Hashemite Kingdom. The project was due to formally launch at the United Nations COP28 climate conference in Dubai in December 2023.

However, relations between Jerusalem and Amman deteriorated late last year after Israel launched its counteroffensive against Hamas in Gaza after the massacre of October 7. To get the water-for-energy deal back on track, Jerusalem reportedly asked Amman to tone down its anti-Israel invective and return its ambassador to Tel Aviv, whom Amman recalled on November 1 in protest “of the raging Israeli war on Gaza.”

Jordanian Response to October 7

Since October 7, Jordanian officials have continued to denounce Israel for the war in Gaza. On October 21, King Abdullah accused Israel of committing “cruel and unconscionable” acts in Gaza and said that Israel’s counteroffensive against Hamas was a “war crime.” In November, Abdullah said that the “root of the crisis was Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and its denial of Palestinians’ legitimate rights,” ignoring Hamas’s atrocities. Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi charged Israel with “genocide” in December. In February, Jordan’s Queen Rania delivered a speech in which she acknowledged “the brutal October 7th attack” but only in the context of a “larger story” involving “the endless indignities of life under occupation.”

At the same time, Amman’s hostility to Israel has not diverted the kingdom’s security establishment from confronting Iranian threats to Jordan. In March, Jordanian security forces intercepted a shipment of weapons sent by Iran-backed militias in Syria to a Muslim Brotherhood cell in Jordan. Overnight between April 13 and 14, Jordan’s air force joined in a U.S.-led coalition effort to help repel Iran’s direct attack on Israel with more than 300 missiles and drones.

Jordan Asks Israel to Extend Water-for-Energy Deal,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel, Jordan Move Ahead on Water-for-Electricity Deal,” FDD Flash Brief

Neither Here Nor There: Jordan and the Abraham Accords,” by Jonathan Schanzer

Issues:

Arab Politics Israel Israel at War Jordan