Israel’s Energy Minister Israel Katz visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday where he met with Emirati, Jordanian and US officials to advance the trilateral 2022 water-for-energy deal to ease the impact of climate change on both Israel and Jordan.
The memorandum of understanding, signed last November in Sharm el-Sheikh in the presence of US Climate Envoy John Kerry and on the sidelines of the COP27 Climate Conference, sees Jordan establishing a 600-megawatt solar power capacity plant, constructed by an Emirati firm and with Emirati financing. Israel will purchase solar power from the new Jordan-based facility, and Jordan will purchase desalinated water from an Israeli site to be constructed along the Mediterranean coast. The deal sees Israel providing water-scarce Jordan with 200 million cubic meters of water.
UAE’s Minister of Technology and Industry Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber hosted the meeting in Abu Dhabi, which included besides Katz, Jordanian Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Saleh Ali Hamed al-Kharabsheh, Jordanian Environment Minister Muawieh Khalid Radaideh, Jordanian Water and Irrigation Minister Muhammad Jamil Musa al-Najjar and senior adviser in the office of the Special American Presidential Envoy for Climate David Livingston. Apart from Katz, Israel also sent to the meeting senior officials from the prime minister’s office, the Energy Ministry, the Israel Electricity Company and the Israel Water Authority.
A statement issued by the office of Katz after the meeting said that "the parties discussed the desired ways to promote the final stages of the 'Prosperity' regional initiative for the sale of 200 million cubic meters of desalinated seawater per year to Jordan, and the purchase of green electricity from a solar farm that the United Arab Emirates will build in Jordan. These discussions took place in preparation for the signing of binding agreements at the annual climate conference COP28 to be held at the end of the year in Dubai."
The water-for-energy Prosperity Project was launched in 2021 as a byproduct of the Abraham Accords normalizing ties between Israel, Bahrain, the UAE and Sudan. Also, the deal aims to contribute to better relations between Israel and Jordan. Ties between the two countries were cold during the Netanyahu era. The memorandum was signed under the Bennett government, which made it a priority to reach out to the Jordanians. In fact, shortly after taking office, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met in Amman with the Jordanian monarch and offered to double the amount of water Israel supplies to the Hashemite kingdom from the Jordan River.
That being said, King Abdullah called Netanyahu in November last year to congratulate him on his electoral win. Last January, the king hosted Netanyahu in Amman in a rare meeting after years of strained relations between the two leaders. Also, Minister Katz has been invested in the water-for-energy project, pushing since taking office to advance its implementation. Katz, who is slated to become foreign minister as of January 2024 for a period of two years, is the first Israeli minister to visit the Emirates since the Netanyahu government came to power in December. Netanyahu has yet to receive an invitation to visit the country.