Israel says to negotiate border land lease extension with Jordan

A view of the Jordan River Naharayim Isle of Peace

A view of the Jordan River Naharayim Isle of Peace

Jordanian King Abdullah II on Sunday cancelled two annexes from the 1994 peace treaty with Israel. Relations sunk further in December with the relocation of the American embassy to Jerusalem against Jordan's warnings and the subsequent violent reaction to protesters in Gaza that have left hundreds of Palestinians dead and tens of thousands wounded.

In the 1994 peace treaty, Jordanian sovereignty over the area was confirmed but Israelis retained private land ownership and special provisions that allow free Israeli travel.

Israel and Jordan were embroiled past year in a diplomatic standoff following the shooting deaths of two Jordanians in July 2017 by an Israeli security guard, Ziv Moyal, who Israel said opened fire in self-defense after one of the men tried to stab him.

The parts Jordan wants to revoke relate to two parcels of land Jordan leased to Israel for 25 years.

"Baqoura and Ghumar are Jordanian lands and will remain Jordanian and we will exercise full sovereignty over our territory", the king said, according to a royal court statement.

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The case of Baqoura could provide a predicament for Israel and Jordan given a possible dispute over land rights.

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.

In Jordan, however, the decision to downgrade its arrangement with Israel sparked celebrations.

Large-scale protests over the weekend urged the king to reclaim the Jordanian territory.

"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 Petra state news agency.

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After his announcement on Sunday, Jordanians took to social media, with one person calling it a "historic and wise decision".

Relations between the two countries has been mixed. Haaretz reported that eighty-seven Jordanian lawmakers signed a petition on the matter. The shooter, Ahmed Daqamseh, was apprehended by other Jordanian soldiers.

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.

He said it was likely that Netanyahu had known about the decision beforehand and that "it is symbolic, more than anything else, to gain the support of the opposition".

Several Jordanian officials, analysts and MPs have privately said Israel has "taken Jordan for granted one too many times". "But Jordan faces particular difficulties with regards to water and energy, as well as an addition of 1.5 million Syrian refugees to its population". 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.

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