Amman protest: Jordan-Israel natural gas deal in focus

Rally in Amman follows signing of contract between US firm and Jordanian utility for imports from Leviathan field.

    Hundreds of Jordanians have taken part in a demonstration in the centre of Amman in protest against a deal signed this week to import natural gas from Israel.

    Demonstrators carried banners on Friday, reading: "No to financing the Zionist entity from the pockets of Jordanian citizens" and "No to gas imports from the Zionist enemy".

    The protest was called by trade unions and political parties opposed to the 1994 peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, half the population of which is of Palestinian origin.

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    "Gas from the Zionists is a disgrace," the demonstrators chanted.

    A US-led consortium leading the development of Israel's offshore gas reserves announced the signing on Monday of a deal to sell natural gas from its Leviathan field to Jordan.

    US firm Noble Energy, the lead partner, said the contract with the National Electric Power Company of Jordan (NEPCO) was for 8.5 million cubic metres per day over a 15-year term.

    It includes an option to purchase a further 50 million cubic feet, up to a total of 350 million daily.

    Friday's rally against the gas deal is likely to put pressure on a government facing multiple domestic challenges.

    Writer's killing

    The demonstration in Amman came just a day after King Abdullah II visited the home village of Nahed Hattar to pay condolences to the Christian writer's family, following his murder on Sunday outside a court.

    Abdullah "strongly condemned this heinous crime" which was "alien to our [Jordanian] culture", the royal palace said in a statement on Thursday.

    On the visit to the Christian village of Al-Fuhais, 20km northwest of Amman, Abdullah, who was accompanied by Hani al-Malki, the prime minister, said Jordan's Muslims and minority Christians were united against "extremism, violence and bigotry".

    Hattar's family has accused the authorities of failing to protect him [Reuters]

    Hattar, 56, was shot dead by a bearded assailant on the steps of an Amman court where he was on trial for allegedly insulting Islam with a cartoon he shared on social media.

    Hattar's family accused the authorities of failing to protect the writer despite warnings that his life had been under threat.

    The assailant, who surrendered to police at the scene, has been charged with premeditated murder, terrorism and possession of an illegal firearm.

    If convicted, the suspect could face the death penalty.

    SOURCE: News Agencies


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