Jordan Issues Deadline on Dead Sea Project

YERUSHALAYIM -

Jordan has given Israel until January 1 to say whether it remains committed to the joint Red Sea-Dead Sea pipeline project, the Times of Israel reported on Monday, citing Jordan media sources.

Jordanian Water and Irrigation Minister Hazem al-Naser sent a letter to Israel demanding an answer to that question, in the wake of Israel’s decision to suspend talks on the project until Amman allows the Israeli embassy staff to return. Amman has refused the diplomats permission to return until an Israeli security guard who shot dead two Jordanian nationals in July is brought to trial. Israel says it was in self-defense, but Jordan is not satisfied.

A spokesperson for Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi would not comment on the report, which initially appeared in the Jordanian daily al-Ghad.

The $10 billion water-sharing project, which was nearing completion of the planning stages, has been put on hold since the embassy incident caused a rift in bilateral relations.

Jordan reportedly sought to resume negotiations for the pipeline by phone in the meantime, but Israel refused, and there was a media report that Jordan may continue on its own with other partners.

“The position of the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office is that we cannot have a situation where on the one hand the Jordanians do not allow us to reopen the embassy and on the other hand we continue to advance projects that are important to them as if nothing had happened,” an unnamed Israeli official told Channel 10.