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Israel, Jordan, UAE to sign massive solar power plant deal

A worker carries solar panel on 17 July, 2018 [Özkan Bilgin/Anadolu Agency]
A worker carries solar panel on 17 July, 2018 [Özkan Bilgin/Anadolu Agency]

Israel, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will sign an agreement next week to establish a solar power plant in Jordan, Israeli officials said Wednesday, Anadolu News Agency reports.

The Axios news website in the US reported that the deal is expected to be inked Monday in Dubai in the presence of US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry.

"This is the biggest regional cooperation project ever undertaken between Israel and its neighbours," according to Axios. "The plan calls for the UAE-funded solar farm to provide energy mainly to Israel, which will build a desalination plant on its Mediterranean coast to provide water to Jordan.

"The deal was made possible by the Abraham Accords and was helped across the finish line by several phone calls from Kerry to Jordan's King Abdullah II and Israeli Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid.

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"The deal will only increase the strategic importance of the relationship between Israel and Jordan, which has improved significantly since Naftali Bennett replaced Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel's Prime Minister. It should also ease Jordan's water crisis," said the news outlet.

It came as a result of secret talks between the three governments, which became more serious in September and matured into a draft agreement at the end of October, it said.

The website added: "The deal was initially set to be signed two weeks ago during the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow."

Axios quoted unnamed Israeli officials who said, "King Abdullah was prepared to move ahead, but Bennett asked to postpone the signing out of a concern that it would generate domestic political criticism days before a critical vote on Israel's budget."

"The logic was that Israel needs renewable energy but lacks the land for massive solar farms, which Jordan has.

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"Jordan, meanwhile, needs water but can only build desalination plants in the remote southern part of the country, while Israel's coastline is closer to Jordan's big population centres.

"The solar farm will be built by Masdar, a UAE government-owned alternative energy company.

"The plans call for the solar farm to be operational by 2026 and produce 2 per cent  of Israel's energy by 2030, with Israel paying $180 million per year to be divided between the Jordanian government and the Emirati company," said Axios.

It said the agreement is expected to be signed by Israeli Energy Minister, Karine Elharrar, Jordanian Water Minister, Raed Abu Al-Saud and UAE Foreign Minister, Abdullah bin Zayed.

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