Published: Sun, October 21, 2018

Jordan cancels 2 annexes from peace treaty with Israel

Jordan cancels 2 annexes from peace treaty with Israel

Jordan said on Sunday that it informed Israel's government that Amman would not renew an Israeli lease of two tracts of territory along the countries' border.

"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.

As part of a 1994 peace treaty, Israel retained private land ownership and special travel rights in Baqura in the northwestern part of the kingdom and Ghamr in the south for 25 years, with a one-year notice period needed to keep the lease from automatically extending.

The 25-year lease expires next year.

Israel's Jerusalem Post newspaper reported that Israel could use the deal that allows planes travelling between Europe and Jordan to fly over Israel as leverage in persuading Jordan to renew the lease.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that despite the monarch's announcement, the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty is "an agreement of true peace".

Netanyahu said the "accord as a whole is an important thing", and called the peace deals with Jordan and Egypt "anchors of regional stability". As put by former premier, Abdul Salam Majali, in a recent TV interview, Jordan may have to buy back the land from owners, or just hope that the Israeli side will return it to Jordan free of charge.

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. However, the Jordan King noted that he wants to reclaim the land, citing national interests.

Internal pressure might be a major reason for the King's decision, but not necessarily the only one.

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 Jordan Bar Association sent an official letter to Prime Minister Omar a-Razzaz about the issue, while 87 out of 130 Jordanian parliament members, signed a request to carry out that body's recommendation to cancel the lease.

Despite the two sides sharing close security ties, there has been increased tensions between Jordan and Israel over the Israeli governments "provocative" measures ranging from placing restrictions on the Jerusalem's Al Aqsa Mosque and the Noble Sanctuary - recognised in the peace treaty as under Jordanian custodianship - to the continued construction of settlements on 1967 territory. "We will go into negotiations with them on the option of extending the existing agreement", Netanyahu said.

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

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