What the Jordan-Israel Water and Energy Deal Means for the Future of Middle East Peacemaking

In Dubai on Monday, Israeli and Jordanian representatives signed a major cooperation agreement, which involves an Emirati firm building a solar-power plant in Jordan that will export clean energy to the Jewish state. At the same time, Jordan has agreed to buy potable water from an Israeli desalination plant that will be constructed on the Mediterranean coast. The United Arab Emirates, which helped to broker the deal, will also provide crucial investment. Ghaith al-Omari and Simon Henderson examine the plan’s significance:

Once implemented, the deal could bolster Jordan’s stability by addressing its severe water shortage and providing help to its cash-strapped government. Israel, the UAE, and the United States all see the kingdom as an ally and are invested in its stability.

The deal also demonstrates additional ways to build on the Abraham Accords. So far, most of the diplomatic activity surrounding the accords has focused on adding new countries or deepening bilateral relations between Israel and its new partners. These efforts should be continued, but the solar/water deal shows how the accords can simultaneously deepen Israel’s relations with the first generation of Arab peacemakers, [i.e., Egypt and Jordan].

With the trilateral deal, the UAE will not only provide all-important financial resources, but also help create a context in which Jordan-Israel relations can proceed in a less-charged political environment. Criticism of Israel is common in the Jordanian media, but commentators tend to be more cautious when discussing a friendly Arab country such as the UAE, arguably Amman’s closest Gulf ally.

Abu Dhabi’s role may have a similar effect on the Israeli domestic scene. Although Israel has traditionally been keener than Jordan to develop bilateral civilian ties, signs of politicization have emerged there as well. For example, Benjamin Netanyahu recently criticized the current government’s decision to sell more water to Amman. Framing the bilateral relationship within the Abraham Accords—which are immensely popular in Israel—can blunt some of that politicization.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Abraham Accords, Israel-Arab relations, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Water

Hamas Has Its Own Day-After Plan

While Hamas’s leaders continue to reject the U.S.-backed ceasefire proposal, they have hardly been neglecting diplomacy. Ehud Yaari explains:

Over the past few weeks, Hamas leaders have been engaged in talks with other Palestinian factions and select Arab states to find a formula for postwar governance in the Gaza Strip. Held mainly in Qatar and Egypt, the negotiations have not matured into a clear plan so far, but some forms of cooperation are emerging on the ground in parts of the embattled enclave.

Hamas officials have informed their interlocutors that they are willing to support the formation of either a “technocratic government” or one composed of factions that agree to Palestinian “reconciliation.” They have also insisted that security issues not be part of this government’s authority. In other words, Hamas is happy to let others shoulder civil responsibilities while it focuses on rebuilding its armed networks behind the scenes.

Among the possibilities Hamas is investigating is integration into the Palestinian Authority (PA), the very body that many experts in Israel and in the U.S. believe should take over Gaza after the war ends. The PA president Mahmoud Abbas has so far resisted any such proposals, but some of his comrades in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) are less certain:

On June 12, several ex-PLO and PA officials held an unprecedented meeting in Ramallah and signed an initiative calling for the inclusion of additional factions, meaning Hamas. The PA security services had blocked previous attempts to arrange such meetings in the West Bank. . . . Hamas has already convinced certain smaller PLO factions to get on board with its postwar model.

With generous help from Qatar, Hamas also started a campaign in March asking unaffiliated Palestinian activists from Arab countries and the diaspora to press for a collaborative Hamas role in postwar Gaza. Their main idea for promoting this plan is to convene a “Palestinian National Congress” with hundreds of delegates. Preparatory meetings have already been held in Britain, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Qatar, and more are planned for the United States, Spain, Belgium, Australia, and France.

If the U.S. and other Western countries are serious about wishing to see Hamas defeated, and all the more so if they have any hopes for peace, they will have to convey to all involved that any association with the terrorist group will trigger ostracization and sanctions. That Hamas doesn’t already appear toxic to these various interlocutors is itself a sign of a serious failure.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian Authority