Published: Sun, October 21, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Jordanian King to end border land lease extension with Israel

Jordanian King to end border land lease extension with Israel

Jordanian King Abdullah II on Sunday cancelled two annexes from the 1994 peace treaty with Israel.

"Al-Baqoura and Al-Ghamr [the Arabic names] have always been our top priority, and our decision is to end Al-Baqoura's annexation and step away from the peace agreement based on our keenness to take whatever is necessary for Jordan and Jordanians", Jordan's King Abdullah II tweeted in Arabic on Sunday.

According to Safadi, these rights were due to remain in force for 25 years and will be renewed automatically for the same period unless either country wishes to terminate the arrangement, in which case consultations will be held.

"Our decision is to terminate the Baquoura and Ghamar annexes from the (1994 Jordan-Israel) peace treaty out of our keenness to take all decisions that would serve Jordan and Jordanians", said the King in his tweet.

"In such hard regional circumstances, our priorities are to protect our interests and do everything that is necessary for Jordan and Jordanians", the monarch added.

Abdullah did not give a reason for his decision, but he has been under domestic pressure to end the lease.

There was no immediate Israeli reaction.

Israel's former ambassador to Jordan, Oded Eran, said he was not surprised by Jordan's decision, and said there was still time for the two countries to re-negotiate the agreement.

Many in Jordan have recently called on their government not to renew the agreement with Israel.

Meanwhile the Yediot Aharanot newspaper quoted Eyal Bloom, a local official in southern Israel, as saying that the Tzofar area was important for Israel's security and 30 Israeli farms would collapse if Jordan reclaimed it.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel would start negotiations aimed at extending the lease. In an "era of regional turmoil" his Kingdom - between Syria to the north, Iraq to the east and Israel to its west - Jordan wanted to protect its "national interests", Abdullah said.

In fact, Naharayim - Hebrew for two rivers, as it is located between the Yarmuk and Jordan Rivers - was opened this year to Israeli visitors under the name "Island of Peace".

The two areas in the fertile Jordan Valley, the breadbasket for Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories, are recognised Jordanian territory with temporary Israeli land ownership rights. He dismissed the possibility that Jordan might pull out of other parts of the broader peace treaty.

"There is an extensive range of agreements between Israel and Jordan", he said.

Tensions between Israel and Jordan have mounted in recent months over such issues as the contested status of Jerusalem and its holy sites, stalled Mideast peace talks, and last year's shooting of two Jordanian citizens by an Israeli embassy guard in Amman, which ignited a diplomatic crisis. The deal helped Amman to pave the way for United States economic and military assistance to the country.

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