Middle East

Hundreds of Jordanians protest against gas deal with Israel, demand govt. resignation

Hundreds of Jordanians have staged a demonstration to express their resentment over the government’s multi-billion-dollar agreement to import natural gas from the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

On Friday, the protesters staged a rally, which was organized by the Jordanian National Campaign Against the Gas Agreement with the Zionist Entity, in the capital Amman, calling on Prime Minister Omar Razzaz to step down.

They also demanded the parliament, which will hold a session next Sunday to discuss the issue of natural gas imports from Israel, to vote against the agreement and hold those who signed it to account.

The demonstrators then urged all Jordanians nationwide to take part in anti-gas deal protests, push for the abolition of the agreement, and put all those responsible for the crime and treachery on trial.

The protesters also chanted slogans in condemnation of the gas agreement with Israel, and called for the ouster of Razzaz’s government.

The protesters engaged in clashes with Jordanian security forces as they sought to reach Nakheel Square. The demonstrators, however, were pushed back by police officers.

Last week, hundreds of people protested in the northeastern Jordanian city of Zarqa against the import of natural gas from Israel by Jordan.

The mayor of Zarqa, Imad al-Momani, called on the authorities to “cancel this humiliating agreement” while speaking to the demonstrators.

On September 26, 2016, Jordan’s National Electric Power Company signed a 10-billion-dollar deal with US-based Noble Energy and Israeli partners in order to tap the Leviathan natural gas field in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Israel for the supply of approximately 1.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, or 300 million cubic feet per day (mcf/d), over a 15-year term.

On March 26 last year, members of Jordan’s parliament called for the cancellation of the gas deal with Israel during a parliamentary session closed to the public.

House Speaker Atef Tarawneh stated at the time that all sectors of the society and members of parliament utterly reject Jordanian electricity company agreement to buy Israeli natural gas.

Several legislators argued that the multi-billion-dollar deal violates Article 33, section two of the Jordanian constitution, which states: “Treaties and agreements which entail any expenditures to the Treasury of the State or affect the public or private rights of Jordanians shall not be valid unless approved by the parliament; and in no case shall the secret terms in a treaty or agreement be contrary to the overt terms.”

Lawmaker Saddah al-Habashneh said the deal was unconstitutional, stressing that members of parliament were not given access to read what he called the “secret” deal.

“Why are they hiding it? It’s a clue that there is something. It is totally rejected,” he commented.

Habashneh then demanded the deal be scrapped along with Jordan’s peace accord with Israel – known as Wadi Araba Treaty and signed on October 26, 1994.

“We are calling for the Wadi Araba agreement to be dropped. What is peace when they’re attacking Gaza?” the parliamentarian said.

“And with yesterday’s recognition of the Golan Heights, what’s left? We want dignity,” he pointed out.

On March 25, 2019, US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation, formally recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The announcement came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the White House.

The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, in a statement, called the US decision a “blatant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Syria.

“The liberation of the Golan by all available means and its return to the Syrian motherland is an inalienable right,” according to the statement carried by Syria’s official news agency SANA, which added, “The decision … makes the United States the main enemy of the Arabs.”

The Arab League also condemned the move, saying “Trump’s recognition does not change the area’s status.”

Iran, Iraq, Russia and Turkey also condemned the US move.

Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria after the 1967 Six-Day War and later occupied it in a move that has never been recognized by the international community. The regime has built dozens of settlements in the area ever since and has used the region to carry out a number of military operations against the Syrian government.

-Hundreds of Jordanians

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