Jerusalem24 – Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid revealed plans for a joint Jordanian-Israeli industrial park in a statement yesterday evening, aiming to “create joint ventures for trade, technology, and local industry.”
The plans for the “Jordan Gateway”, which Lapid said were conceived after the 1994 peace agreement between Jordan and Israel and finalized during a meeting between Lapid and Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Jordan last Wednesday, were given official approval by the Israeli government during a Cabinet meeting yesterday.
“This is a breakthrough that will greatly contribute to the development and strengthening of the region,” said Lapid. He claimed the initiative would “bring employment to both countries, advance our economic and political relations, and deepen the peace and friendship between the two countries.”
The Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry for Regional Cooperation, the Ministry of Transportation and Road Safety, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economy, and the Airports Authority have all been working to finalize the plan, according to Lapid’s office.
An “industrial park” spanning some 700 dunams on the Jordanian side of the border and about 245 dunams on the Israeli side will be constructed in Beit She’an (established on the ruins of the Palestinian village of Beisan) just north of the Green Line above the occupied Jordan Valley.
A bridge (construction of which was already completed some years ago) will facilitate access between the sites for Jordanian entrepreneurs and their Israeli counterparts.
According to a report by Al Jazeera, the plan includes Israeli and Jordanian factories on the Jordanian side of the park, while a logistics wing and a base will be built on the Israeli side for transferring goods out of Israeli ports on the Mediterranean Sea, as Jordan is landlocked.
Years in the making
The completed bridge (along with some other arrangements) demonstrates that this plan was long in the making even though its finalization has only been formally announced.
Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1994 following the Oslo Accords, and have attempted to engage in a number of joint economic projects in the three decades since – though many of them have failed to take off the ground, in part due to volatile conditions surrounding Al-Aqsa Mosque, of which Jordan is the custodian.
Israeli recruitment of Jordanians to work in Eilat hotels in southern Israel in a scheme first piloted in 2015 has consistently met with public and political backlash.
The Jordanian government has yet to comment on the Jordan Gateway announcement.