Jordanian Activists decry ‘Parliament’s silence’ over Israel gas deal

Protesting MP claims deal violates Article 33 of Jordanian Constitution

By Suzanna Goussous

Activists protest against the gas deal with Israel in front of Parliament on Tuesday (Photo by Suzanna Goussous)

AMMAN — Jordanian activists on Tuesday decried “Parliament’s silence” over the gas deal with Israel which was signed by the state-owned National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) in September last year, arguing that the deal would “reduce Jordanian investments in the country that benefit the Jordanian youth”.

As MPs met in an extraordinary session, dozens of Jordanians from several political parties and blocs gathered in front of the Parliament to protest “Parliament’s silence” on the gas deal, which has seen postponement of discussions.

“Many investments can be implemented with the money from the gas deal. We could have provided Jordanian youths with many opportunities,” Hisham Bustani, director of the National Jordanian Campaign Against the Gas Agreement with the Zionist Entity, said.

Abdelmajeed Dandees, a member of Al Wihda Popular Party, said the demonstration was to condemn the role of MPs who did not deliver the “people’s message” regarding an issue of national importance.

“Today, we voice our anger towards this Parliament. This is part of a series of events against the gas deal and against promoting ties with Israel,” Dandees said.

The gas deal, if approved, will create further economic and political  “burdens” for the people, the activist continued.

Mohammad Absi, head of the anti-normalisation campaign, said that, despite the previous Parliament’s rejection of the gas deal by a clear majority, the current Parliament “has been avoiding discussions of the consequences of approving the gas deal”.

“It is not enough anymore to deal with memorandums here and there. We demand a unified, clear answer. By being silent about the gas deal with Israel, we are mortgaging the country for 15 years,” he told The Jordan Times.

Absi added: “We have reached the point where some MPs view the gas deal as a normal contract and many also justify signing the deal with the Zionist entity. We have contacted many members, but have not yet received a clear response.”

The campaign has also been contacting the Parliamentary Energy Committee. Many committee members have stated they are personally against the gas deal and its conditions, Absi said, adding they hope the committee will deliver its disapproval of the treaty to Parliament.

MP Saleh Armouti (Amman, 3rd District), who joined the demonstration, said the gas deal violates Article 33 of the Jordanian Constitution.

The article states that no treaty that involves financial commitments to the state treasury, or public or private rights of Jordanians, shall be valid unless approved by the National Assembly. The article also states that under no circumstances shall any secret terms be contained in any agreement.

Armouti told The Jordan Times that “approving the gas deal signed with Israel serves Zionist policies in the region”.

Islah (Reform) Bloc submitted a proposal to discuss the gas deal in the extraordinary session held on Tuesday, among 15 other pieces of legislation.

He described people’s rejection of the deal as “valid”, since there are alternative energy sources from Aqaba and other areas in Jordan, as well as from Algeria and Qatar.

“Jordan imports gas from Aqaba to Egypt. We also have solar and wind energy sources. With the deal, we are funding the Zionist entity with $10 billion,” the MP told The Jordan Times, adding that “we will work towards the cancellation of this deal and the Wadi Araba Peace Treaty”.

Hanadi Dweik, of the Nationalistic Movement Party (Al Haraka Al Qawmiyyah), said MPs must not approve the deal, as it “makes the normalisation of ties more domestic and acceptable”.

NEPCO, however, previously stated that the gas deal will help save Jordan around $600 million per year.

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