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Jordan Requests That Israel Boost Its Water Supply

A Jordanian delegation traveled to Israel to request an increase in water allocation to the Kingdom, which has long been plagued by shortages. It was the first time in over a year that the joint Israeli-Jordanian committee tasked with addressing water scarcity issues convened, and comes just one month after King Abdullah announced that he would not renew a 25-year lease allowing Israeli farmers to access two plots of land—Naharayim in the north and Tzofar in the south—that were ceded to Jordan as part of the 1994 peace accord. Many analysts have attributed that decision—which some view as a blow to the treaty—to growing anti-Israel sentiment in Jordan, coupled with a public pressure campaign on the royal family that has manifested in a series of nation-wide anti-regime protests. Despite the occasional dust-up, below-the-radar ties between Jerusalem and Amman nevertheless remain strong—especially in the realm of security—and Jordan’s new ambassador to Israel Ghassan Majali took up his post last month. Israel also provides Jordan with billions of dollars of natural gas from its offshore Leviathan field. The Jordanian request for additional water must be approved by Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, who may, in turn, demand that long-stalled plans be advanced for a pipeline carrying seawater from Aqaba along the Red Sea to an area adjacent to the Dead Sea. The project would provide desalinated potable water for Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territories; stabilize Dead Sea water levels; and generate electricity.