King says Jordan to reclaim land held by Israel under 1994 deal
Jordan has told Israel that it intends to reclaim two tracts of territories remained in Israeli private ownership under a 1994 peace treaty, King Abdullah II has announced, in a move that was welcomed by activists and civil society groups opposing the deal.
Aljazeera reported as part of the agreement, Israel leased about 405 hectares of agricultural land in the southern sector of its border with Jordan called al-Ghumar, as well as the small al-Baqura area near the confluence of Jordan and Yarmouk rivers.
The areas are currently regulated through a “special regime” in the peace treaty where Israel recognises Jordanian sovereignty with Israeli private land ownership.
The territories – water-rich farmlands currently cultivated by Israeli farmers, kept in Israeli hands for 25 years, with a 12-month notice period needed to prevent an automatic extension. The deadline for renewing the leases is Thursday, October 25.
“We have informed Israel of an end to the application of the peace treaty annexes regarding al-Baqura and al-Ghumar,” the king said on Sunday, according to the Petra state news agency.
“Al-Baqura and al-Ghumar have always been on top of my priorities. Our decision is to end the annexes of the peace treaty based on our keenness to take all that is necessary for Jordan and Jordanians,” the king added.
“Al-Baqura and al-Ghumar are Jordanian land and will remain Jordanian.”
Following the king’s announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would negotiate with Jordan an extension of the leases, which expire next year.
“We will enter into negotiations with Jordan to option an extension of the existing lease agreement,” Israeli media quoted him as saying.
It is unclear how and when the territories will be returned back to Jordan’s ownership. The territories have been under Israeli control since 1948.