- Title: JORDAN-GAS PROTEST Jordanians show discontent towards Jordan, Israel gas deal
- Date: 7th September 2015
- Summary: AUDIENCE CHEERING (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) FORMER MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, LAITH SHBAILAT, SAYING "This [movement] must be successful. I hope that the new life will be infused into the people. Shame on every Jordanian who remains quiet. Whoever sees this happening, and remains silent, I don't know what to call them." STAGE AUDIENCE LEAVING THEATRE AND CHANTING: THE PEOPLE WANT TO END THE WADI ARABA PEACE DEAL
- Embargoed: 22nd September 2015 13:00
- Location: Jordan
- Country: Jordan
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVAELU79LE88V1YBAORSH53MA0KS
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Jordanian activists are protesting against their country's multi-billion dollar gas deal with Israel.
They're hoping that by staging a people's court play, they'll be able to put pressure on the government to reverse the 15 billion dollar deal.
Those behind the event on Saturday (September 5), the 'Jordanian Campaign to stop the Zionist Gas Deal', hope the trial will force the government to asses alternative ways to solve the energy crisis facing the kingdom.
"We staged this trial because the Jordanian government, despite widespread popular opposition to the deal and despite the opposition in parliament, is not concerned with what the people want, nor is it concerned with the principles of democracy and transparency," said Dr. Hisham Bustani, head of the campaign.
"It [the government] refuses to disclose the terms of the letter of intent they signed. The money which will be paid through this deal is taken from our pockets, from the people's pockets, and thus the government has to be held responsible by the people who entrusted them with their money,'' he added.
In September 2014, the country's government signed a letter of intent with a US company to import natural gas from the Leviathan field located off the shores of Haifa, Israel.
This $15 billion deal will supply 30 percent of the Jordan's electricity demands by 2018.
The Kingdom, which imports 97 percent of its energy supplies, had depended heavily on Egypt to provide it with natural gas. But violence in the Sinai Peninsula damaged the pipeline that fed Jordan's gas demands.
The deal has been strongly opposed by Jordanians, with many taking to the streets in protests, and activists staging online and off-line campaigns.
Members of parliament also voted against the deal in December last year, with 110 parliamentarians demanding it be revoked.
The trial featured witnesses including environmental and energy experts, who were examined and cross examined by defence and prosecuting attorneys.
Lawyer Hala Ahed who represented the prosecuting attorney during the trial, and said she hopes this trial sends a strong message to government officials.
"This people's court presented a conversation reflecting the government's justifications [for the deal] and the people's argument, in the form of a trial. This aims to send a message to the Jordanian government and the national electrical company stating that the Jordanian people refuse to accept this deal, and refuse to be forced to normalize relations with the Zionist enemy,'' she said.
Members of the audience cheered repeatedly during the trial, and broke into chants in protest of the deal and in protest of the Wadi Araba peace agreement, which Jordan signed with Israel in 1994.
"This [movement] must be successful. I hope that the new life will be infused into the people. Shame on every Jordanian who remains quiet. Whoever sees this happening, and remains silent, I don't know what to call them," said former member of parliament, and prominent opposition activist Laith Shbailat, who was in the audience.
The Jordanian Campaign to stop the Zionist gas deal is backed by at least 26 organizations, including trade unions and political parties.
So far, the campaign has not had any interaction with the government. But organizers say they intend to continue their work and hopefully put enough pressure on the government to drop the deal altogether.
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