Israel has announced plans to advance the construction of a previously-approved multimillion-dollar joint industrial park with Jordan, along the two countries’ shared border. The decision for the project, dubbed the “Jordan Gateway”, came during an Israeli government cabinet meeting on Sunday.
Al Jazeera reports that the idea was first proposed in 1994 when the two countries normalised ties, but the “final details” were agreed upon during a meeting last week between Jordan’s King Abdullah II and acting Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid in the Jordanian capital, Amman.
“Twenty-eight years since the peace agreement with Jordan, we are taking the good neighbourly relations between our two countries another step forward,” Lapid said on Sunday. “This is a breakthrough that will contribute greatly to developing and strengthening the region.”
There was no immediate comment from the Jordanian government on the project. Work on the project had already begun in recent years, including the completion of a bridge between the two sides of the park to serve as a crossing.
It is located just above the northeastern part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, close to the Israeli city of Beit She’an, formerly called Beisan prior to the expulsion of its Palestinian residents in 1948 when Israel was established, in what Palestinians refer to as the Nakba, or “catastrophe”. According to statements by the Israeli government in recent years, the project is estimated to cost about 200 million Israeli shekels ($59m).
It will include 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.
Some 700 dunams (70 hectares or 172 acres) have been allocated in Jordan for the project, and about 245 dunams (24 hectares, 60 acres) on the Israeli side. Israel said on Sunday it “will allow Israeli and Jordanian entrepreneurs and businesspeople to communicate directly” and “will produce joint initiatives in trade, technology and local industry”. It also added that the project “will be advanced, developed and operated in coordination and conjunction with the Kingdom of Jordan and with mutual agreement on the goals of the project and aspects of its operation”.
While this will be the first-ever joint infrastructure project between Israel and Jordan, several Arab states have been advancing economic and security agreements with Israel in recent years. In 2019, former United States President Donald Trump launched an economic plan between Israel, Palestine and Arab states, despite opposition from Palestinians. In May 2022, Israel signed a free-trade agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), its first big trade accord with an Arab country.