King says Jordan to reclaim land leased to Israel under 1994 deal

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Jordan King to Abandon Part of 1994 Peace Treaty With Israel on Land Lease

Jordan told Israel on Sunday it would not renew a 25-year lease of two tracts of territory along its border, where Israel had certain rights under a 1994 peace treaty, but Israel said it would negotiate with Jordan to extend the lease.

Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994, part of which included handing over lands of Baqoura (Naharayim) and Ghumar (in the Arava region) to Tel Aviv for 25 years which Amman can claim back if it cancels the existing arrangement.

The premier said, "As part of the agreement between our two countries, Jordan kept the right to take back the two areas at the end of the 25-year period".

Abdullah said he informed Israel of his decision.

The peace treaty with Israel is deeply unpopular in Jordan, where people claim that successive Israeli governments have failed to live up to water-sharing agreements.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he wanted to hold negotiations to keep the existing arrangement in place.

"Baqoura and Ghamr are Jordanian lands and will remain Jordanian and we will exercise full sovereignty over our territory", the King said as he announced the decision, a Royal Court statement reported.

Public sentiment in Jordan against Israel is strong because of its continued occupation of Palestinian territories and its treatment of Palestinians.

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.

If Jordan needs to stop Israelis from using these lands, Qassem told MEE, then both parties will enter into open-ended negotiations, and if these negotiations fail then they can go to arbitration. After a months-long campaign via social media, largescale protests attended by thousands shut down streets in Amman on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Throughout the years, there have been sporadic periods of tension between the two countries.

The previously vague answers and general silence of the government about its legal plans had pushed 86 of the 130 members of the Jordanian parliament to sign a memorandum calling on the government to revisit its position on the issue of the Israeli use of the lands. Ahmad Daqamseh spent 20 years in prison, but was released after Jordanian lawmakers petitioned on his behalf.

Several Jordanian officials, analysts and MPs have privately said Israel has "taken Jordan for granted one too many times". An incident past year in which an Israeli security guard killed two Jordanian citizens within the Israeli embassy compound added to the tension.

"I'm not surprised at any development in the relations between the two states", said Oded Eran, a former Israeli ambassador to Jordan.

"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.

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