The Saudi Arabian government has put heavy pressure on the UAE to cancel the “electricity for water” agreement signed with Israel and Jordan last Monday in Dubai, Walla! Two senior Israeli officials are involved in the matter and another source has been updated on the issue in detail.
Last Wednesday, the agreement was unveiled at Walla !, as part of which a huge solar farm will be built in the Jordanian desert that will generate electricity for Israel. In return, a desalination plant will be built in Israeli territory for the beach in the high school, which will produce water for Jordan. UAE companies will set up the two projects.
The agreement was made possible thanks to the Avraham agreements, which normalized relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The agreement was reached after several months of negotiations between the parties and is the largest collaborative project ever in the region on climate and renewable energy.
Israeli officials said that when the Saudis saw the publication about the agreement, they were surprised. The emirates and Jordanians did not update them in advance on the matter. The Saudis were furious that they were left in the dark and felt that the agreement undermined the vision of the “Green Middle East”, recently launched by Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman as well as the Saudi attempt to take the lead in the region in dealing with the climate crisis. Also, the Saudis have not yet joined the Abrahamic agreements and do not maintain diplomatic relations with Israel, so Israeli involvement in the project automatically excludes them from it.
Following the publication, last weekend very senior Saudi government officials called their counterparts in Abu Dhabi and demanded clarification. Saudi officials have urged the emirates to withdraw from the agreement with Israel, and have even offered an alternative deal in which Saudi Arabia will replace Israel in the project.
Israeli officials said the emirates did not like the Saudi pressure. They updated Kerry, their counterparts in the Israeli government and the Jordanians on what was happening. The emirates did not want to cancel the agreement but in order to appease the Saudis they sought to soften the wording of the agreement so that on the outside it would seem less binding. Israeli officials told Walla! Because Israel did not object to this because the changes did not materially change the agreement.
The agreement was supposed to be signed on Monday morning, but the signing was delayed due in part to Saudi pressure and the need to negotiate quickly to soften the wording of the agreement. Monday afternoon in the presence of U.S. envoy John Kerry.
Energy Minister Karin Elharar and other senior officials in the Ministry of Energy declined to comment on the details in the article but did not deny them. UAE officials have declined to comment. The Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington has not yet responded to questions on the subject.