Jordan and Israel signed an agreement last week to double the annual amount of water that Jordan already purchases from its neighbor.
Jordanian Minister of Water and Irrigation Muhammad Al-Najjar and Israeli Minister of Energy Karine Elharrar signed the agreement on Tuesday, several months after the foreign ministers of both countries hammered out the deal.
“History: We have now signed an agreement to double the amount of water to Jordan,” Elharrar wrote on Twitter. “This is an unequivocal statement – we want good neighborly relations. I sincerely hope that this is the first sign of cooperation between Israel and the Kingdom of Jordan, which will benefit the two peoples in dealing with the challenges of the times.”
Elharrar traveled to Jordan for the signing ceremony.
Jordan, which is landlocked, suffers from a severe water shortage and is considered the second poorest country in the world in terms of water, according to the global water index. Though Israel also suffers from water shortages especially during drought years, the country has a large natural water source, the Kinneret lake (also known as the Sea of Galilee), and several desalination plants.
The Israeli-Jordanian peace agreement signed in 1994 included a stipulation that Israel provide Jordan with water. The new agreement signed last week approves Israel’s sale of an additional 50 million cubic meters of water to its neighbor.
In 2016, the two countries secretly signed an agreement under which Israel would sell gas to Jordan. When news of the deal was leaked to the media, the Jordanian public criticized their government and demonstrated against the deal despite the country’s need for fuel. Jordan is home to a large Palestinian population.
The water deal last week has been public, though it drew only scant headlines in the Arab media.
With the swearing in of its new government in June, Israel has been intent on improving ties with the Hashemite Kingdom after years of chilly, if not hostile, relations between the two countries under former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Since the new government was established, both Israel’s prime minister and foreign minister have made trips to Amman to meet with Jordanian King Abdullah II.
Jordan is the custodian of al-Aqsa Mosque and the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.