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Jordan-Israel spat threatens strategic water project

The ongoing diplomatic crisis between Israel and Jordan after an Israeli Embassy guard in Amman shot dead two Jordanians threatens a strategic water project for the region.
Protestors chant slogans during a demonstration near the Israeli embassy in Amman, Jordan July 28, 2017. The poster reads "Close the terrorist embassy, dignity for the people". REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed - RC1D89B3BBD0

The five-month Jordanian-Israeli diplomatic crisis could be claiming a major multimillion-dollar regional water project as its latest victim as both countries remain deadlocked over a July 23 incident, when an Israeli Embassy guard in Amman shot and killed two Jordanian citizens. According to Al-Ghad newspaper on Nov. 27, Jordan’s Minister of Water and Irrigation Hazim el-Nasser had sent a letter to his Israeli counterpart asking for an official answer as to whether Israel was still committed to a joint agreement for the construction of a pipeline transferring water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. The paper said Jordan wanted an answer before the end of the year. But it also added that secret talks were underway between Israel and Jordan over implementing the first phase of the plan, scheduled to begin next year.

The Jordanian move came in the wake of reports in the Israeli media claiming that Israel had informed the Jordanian side that it would “freeze” work on the project until its embassy in Amman is reopened and Ambassador Einat Schlein and her staff were permitted to return to their posts. But on Nov. 30, Reuters quoted a Jordanian official source as saying that the embassy will remain closed until legal procedures are taken against the Israeli guard accused of killing two Jordanians. King Abdullah had insisted on numerous occasions that the Israeli Embassy in Amman will remain closed until the Israeli guard is put on trial.

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