Jordanian King to end border land lease extension with Israel

Jordan cancels 2 annexes from peace treaty with Israel

The land was leased for a 25-year renewable period under annexes of the 1994 accord that lay down a one-year notice period.

Jordan's King Abdullah II announced Sunday that he does not plan to renew parts of the country's 24-year-old peace agreement with Israel, amid public pressure to rebuke the Israeli government following the U.S. Embassy's move to Jerusalem and ongoing violence in Gaza.

"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.

He added that Tel Aviv was "informed" regarding Amman's decision on Sunday, and stressed that the two border areas "are Jordanian land and will remain" part of the Arab country. In an "era of regional turmoil" his kingdom - sandwiched between Syria to the north, Iraq to the east and Israel to its west - Jordan wanted to protect its "national interests", Abdullah said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel would start negotiations aimed at extending the lease.

Under the terms of peace treaty, the lease would be automatically renewed unless either of the parties notified the other a year before expiry that it wished to terminate the agreement, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.

"There is no doubt the agreement is an important asset", he said, praising the peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt as "anchors of regional stability".

Baqura, in the northern Jordan Valley, was captured by Israel in 1950.




Jordanian security forces stand on guard as protesters wave Jordanian flags and chant slogans during a demonstration near the Israeli embassy in the capital Amman on July 28, 2017.

The territories - water-rich farmlands now cultivated by Israeli farmers - were leased for 25 years, with a 12-month notice period needed to prevent an automatic extension.

"According to our constitution, it is unacceptable that Jordanian lands are not under the country's sovereignty", he said. He spoke at a memorial for the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who signed the peace deal with Jordan.

But he said Israel "will enter negotiations with it on the possibility of extending the current arrangement". Activists and politicians have been vocal against a renewal they say perpetuates Israeli "occupation" of Jordanian territory. They signed a trade treaty in 1996 and in 2014, agreed to a $500 million natural gas deal effective for 15 years.

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".

"I'm not surprised at any development in the relations between the two states", said Oded Eran, a former Israeli ambassador to Jordan. However, Israel-Jordan relations have been strained in recent years, particularly due to Amman's stance on the issue of Jerusalem.

Relations between Jordan and Israel deteriorated past year when an Israeli security officer shot and killed two unarmed Jordanian men in the Israeli embassy in Amman.

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