By Suzanna Goussous – Oct 11,2016
AMMAN — The Student Coalition for the Cancellation of the Gas Deal on Tuesday held its first protest on campus at the University of Jordan (UJ).

Activists from various faculties and blocs rallied to raise students’ awareness of the implications of the gas deal signed in late September between the National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) and Noble Energy, a Houston-based company that holds the largest share in the Israeli Leviathan gas field, located in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Israel.

“Since talk about the gas deal started circulating among people in 2014, we began organising protests, marches, and different activities to fight the decision, and when it was signed, many student initiatives and blocs came together for a series of activities,” activist Alaa Hijjeh said.

The fifth year civil engineering student added: “It is our right to fight for our beliefs. We have the right to protest and show our rejection of this agreement, especially as it was signed at a busy time for Jordan.”

He told The Jordan Times that protesters are “suspicious” of the timing of the 15-year agreement, noting that it was signed when there was no Parliament and the government had just resigned.

“We are part of Jordanian society. We [UJ students] were able to cancel the decision to raise tuition fees after organising several protests four months ago. Students alone cannot reverse the gas deal agreement, but we can make a change together,” Hijjeh added.

Hisham Sawalga, a political science student who took part in the protest, said the coalition reflects the diversity of Jordan, including participants from all political parties.

“Our main aim is to express our rejection as students of the gas deal… It is a simple initiative that university students can do to show solidarity with our people in Palestine,” Sawalga told The Jordan Times.

“We are here today to march and demonstrate against the government’s policies and decisions that serve the Zionist entity,” he added.

“Apart from rejecting the deal because the gas would be imported from a terrorist state, Jordanians don’t know much about this agreement, or who signed it, with whom and when it was actually signed,” the activist said.

“The price of the imported gas is much higher than the international price; also, 15 years are more than enough for us to generate our own resources.”

Coalition members said in a statement that the gas deal, unlike the Wadi Araba peace treaty signed in 1994 with Israel, “forces residents of Jordan to get personally involved”, explaining that the “peace treaty was between governments but the gas deal involves the people”.

Prime Minister Hani Mulki has previously said the deal is a matter of national interest, and that it would pave the way for the Kingdom to find new energy sources while providing Jordan with the cheapest source, while Government Spokesperson Mohammad Momani has said the public needs to “put matters into perspective” regarding the gas deal since the Wadi Araba peace treaty was signed in 1994 and Jordan has trade relations with Israel..

NEPCO officials say the gas deal with Noble Energy would “save Jordan up to $600 million each year”, with around 300 million cubic feet imported by the Kingdom daily.

The student campaign, launched earlier this week, includes students from the Arab Renewal Bloc, Al Awda list, the Nashama list, Al Quds Committee, Ahl Al Himmeh Bloc and independent parties, according to its spokesperson, Anas Hussein.

Hussein said it aims at “educating students” by organising several events on campus to discuss the impacts of signing the gas deal with Israel.