Jordan demands Israel RETURN land leased under 1994 peace treaty

Under the 1994 Wadi Araba Peace Treaty with Israel, Jordan has to decide whether or not to renew an agreement that placed thousands of dunums in Baqoura, in the north-western corner of the Kingdom, and Ghumar, south of the Dead Sea, at the disposal of Israeli farmers.

In a statement on Sunday-a year in advance of the full termination of the lease and the anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, with whom his father signed the agreement-Jordan's King Abdullah announced that "our priority in these regional circumstances is to protect our interests, and do whatever is required for Jordan and the Jordanians".

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.

Israeli farmers on Monday voiced concern over Jordan's intention not to renew parts of its landmark peace treaty with Israel that leased out two small border areas for agriculture, as Jordanians on the other side of the border welcomed the decision.

There was no immediate Israeli reaction.

"For its own interests, the continuation of the adherence to the peace treaty is in Jordan's interest as indeed it is in the interest of Israel", Eran added.

After the king's announcement on Sunday, Jordanians took to social media, calling it a "historic and wise decision".

Baqura is a border area of 6 square kilometers (2.4 square miles) in Jordan's northern Irbid province, which is known as the Island of Peace, while Ghamr covers 4 square kilometers in the southern Aqaba province.

Jordan controlled the West Bank as well as East Jerusalem and the Old City until the Six Days War in 1967, when Israel took them over alongside the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the Sinai, which was later returned to Egypt.

"We will enter into negotiations with the possibility of extending the existing arrangement". Israel, however, said it intends to extend the deal. The deadline for renewing the leases is set for October 25.

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. Last week, demonstrators demanding an end to Israeli ownership of the lands marched in Jordan's capital of Amman last week.

They have also been expanding economic ties in the a year ago including a major deal to export billions of dollars of Israeli gas to the kingdom through a pipeline that crosses their northern borders.

  • Rogelio Becker