Saudi Arabia pressured the United Arab Emirates to back out of a major solar energy agreement with Israel and Jordan, Axios reported on Wednesday, citing two senior Israeli officials.
The agreement, which was signed in Dubai on Monday, binds the UAE in the building of a massive solar farm in Jordan that will supply energy mainly to Israel, which lacks the land necessary for huge solar farms. In turn, Israel will build a desalination plant to provide much-needed water to Jordan. The deal – the largest renewable energy project of its kind between Israel and its Arab neighbors – was made possible by the Abraham Accords and negotiated with the assistance of U.S. climate envoy John Kerry.
According to the Israeli officials, the Saudis were surprised when they heard about the deal last Wednesday, which they were excluded from since Saudi Arabia does not maintain diplomatic relations with Israel. They felt that the agreement undermined
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to serve as the region’s leader on climate via his “Green Middle East” vision.
Senior Saudi officials swiftly called senior Emirati officials and pressured them to back out of the deal and even suggested an alternative Saudi-UAE-Jordan that would leave Israel out in the cold (pun intended).
The Emiratis informed U.S. climate envoy John Kerry and Israeli and Jordanian officials about the Saudi pressure and requested “cosmetic changes” in the text of the agreement to satisfy the Saudis. The other parties agreed and the agreement was signed several hours later than originally planned due to the changes.
Four senior Israeli officials directly involved in the deal declined to comment on the report due “to the sensitivity of the issue,” Axios said. Emirati officials also declined to comment.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)