Jordan Gas Deal Promises Security Dividend

YERUSHALAYIM -

The $15 billion gas deal with Jordan is also a deal for regional security, says Brig. Gen. (Res.) Nitzan Nuriel, research associate at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, IDC Herzliya.

The agreement — which still needs ratification by both Israel and Jordan — is actually part of a larger strategy to shore up relations between Yerushalayim, Amman and Cairo, and to help preserve those two regimes on Israel’s borders, Nuriel told The Times of Israel on Thursday.

It’s seen as a winning proposition for all three, and governmental approval is likely, if not certain.

“Israel will produce the gas, Egypt will liquefy it and Jordan will benefit from it, along with Egypt and Israel,” said Nuriel. “The people in all three countries will be very happy to have a secure supply of energy at a reasonable price.”

Jordanian officials are wary of a domestic backlash, given the surging anti-Israel sentiment there. That’s why, on Thursday a Jordanian official stressed that the deal was not with Israel, but with Noble Energy, a private U.S. company, which owns 35% of the Leviathan natural gas field.

“We allow all Jordanian companies, whether public or private, to import gas from anywhere they want and think is feasible. This agreement between the power company and Noble Energy is part of the government’s interest to help institutions address challenges they face due to rising energy costs,” said Jordanian Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Mohammad Hamed.

“For the first time, all three countries will have a safe, assured and cheap supply of electricity,” said Nuriel. “Israelis will benefit, of course, but in Jordan and Egypt — both countries with large impoverished populations — the gas deal will be a solid, measurable metric of the benefits of peace and regional cooperation. That will help boost the regimes in the eyes of the masses, and strengthen both Egyptian President el-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah in their own struggle against Islamist insurgents.”

What about sabotage?

The areas where the pipes are to be laid are more secure than the pipelines in Sinai were, Nuriel noted. And in the event of regime change for the worse, “then Israel will just find some other country to sell its gas to.”