What happened: Prime Minister Yair Lapid announced at yesterday’s weekly cabinet meeting that Israel and Jordan will establish a joint industrial and employment park.
- The Jordan Gateway Park Terminal will include a crossing for pedestrians, which will also serve as a meeting point for entrepreneurs from both sides to encourage joint initiatives.
- The plan includes an industrial zone on the Jordanian side.
- The project will be advanced, developed and operated in full coordination with the Jordanians.
- The park will be built in the northern end of the Jordan Valley in conjunction with the Emek Hamaayanot Regional Council.
- The project includes a bridge between Israel and Jordan which has already been built.
- Prime Minister Lapid said: “This is an initiative that will increase employment in both countries, advance our economic and diplomatic relations, and enhance the peace and friendship between our two countries.”
- The project has been a key component of the work of the Ministry for Regional Cooperation. According to Minister Issawi Frej, “This decision takes the vision of the civil peace, not just between the countries but also between the peoples, an additional step further. The peace between us is not a peace devoid of economic and civil cooperation that enables the citizens of both countries to enjoy its fruits.”
- In addition, Transportation Minister Michaeli noted:“Jordan is a strategic partner and is of decisive importance for the stability of the entire region.”
Context: The final details of the plan were agreed when Lapid visited King Abdullah II in Amman last week.
- Since the formation of the ‘government of change’ last year, restoring trust and strengthening relations with Jordan has been a high priority.
- Over the last year all of Israel’s senior leadership, including former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Defence Minister Benny Gantz and President Isaac Herzog have all met with the Jordanian King. Lapid has been in regular contact with him as well.
- One of the government’s first decisions last year was to increase the allocation of water to Jordan, doubling Israel’s commitment laid out in the 1994 peace treaty.
- They also set a target to increase Jordan’s export potential to the West Bank from $160m a year to $700m a year.
- At the beginning of 2022 the countries signed a trilateral deal along with the UAE. They agreed that Jordan will build a large solar power plant in the desert, financed by the UAE, which will be used to generate electricity for the Israeli market. In return, Israel will develop another desalination plant and supply even more water to Jordan.
- A joint industrial park was first proposed during talks on the 1994 peace agreement.
- Other issues on the bilateral agenda include joint tourism in the Gulf of Eilat-Aqaba, food security, agriculture and transportation links.
Looking forward: The aim of the new industrial park is to increase employment on both sides.
- The aspiration is that this agreement will also support more people to people contact and enhance peace and friendship between the two countries.
- The next stage will be to build an entrance to the facility and the necessary infrastructure.
- The government will then look to encourage commercial entities into the industrial zone.