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Israel Katz first minister in Netanyahu government to visit UAE

The energy minister is in Abu Dhabi to discuss advancing a UAE-brokered water-for-energy deal with Jordan.

Energy Minister Israel Katz (l) meets UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology Sultan Al Jaber in Abu Dhabi, Aug. 13, 2023. Credit: Twitter.
Energy Minister Israel Katz (l) meets UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology Sultan Al Jaber in Abu Dhabi, Aug. 13, 2023. Credit: Twitter.

Energy Minister Israel Katz on Sunday became the first Cabinet member to visit the United Arab Emirates since the Netanyahu-led government came to power in December.

The minister is in Abu Dhabi to discuss a UAE-brokered water-for-solar energy deal between Jerusalem and Amman.

The original memorandum of understanding was signed in November 2021 at the Expo 2020 world fair in Dubai and another MoU to advance the project was signed in November of last year at the COP27 climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Jordan plans to build 600 megawatts of solar power capacity, the product of which will be exported to Israel. In exchange, Israel is to provide Jordan with 200 million cubic meters of desalinated water per year. As part of the deal, the UAE will construct a solar farm in Jordan.

Katz met in Abu Dhabi on Monday with UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology Sultan Al Jaber and Jordan’s ministers of environment, water and energy. U.S. climate envoy David Livingston was also present at the meetings.

According to the updated MoU, there needs to be tangible progress on the deal by the COP28 climate change conference to take place in Dubai this November.

Emirati leaders in May invited Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog to attend the climate summit.

The UAE in 2020 became the first Gulf state along with Bahrain to normalize relations with Israel as part of the U.S.-brokered Abraham Accords.

In an opinion piece published in The Jerusalem Post, Katz wrote that the UAE visit and the water-for-energy project are “a reflection of the new Middle East—a region that is looking beyond its past, focusing on shared goals, and building bridges of cooperation. The electricity-for-water initiative is not just about resources; it’s about redefining relationships, fostering trust, and working together for a brighter, sustainable future.

“As I engage in discussions with my esteemed colleagues from the Emirates and Jordan, I am filled with hope and optimism. Together, we are not just making history; we are shaping the future,” he wrote.

While in the Emirates, Katz visited the Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue at the Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi, which also features a mosque and church.

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