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Jordan cancels part of peace agreement with Israel

21 October 2018

Much of the land in Baqura in the northwestern part of the Kingdom and Ghumar in the south is used by Israeli military officers and farmers, some of whom were given private land ownership rights and special travel rights under a 1994 peace treaty between the two countries.

Responding to the announcement, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he meant to "negotiate with Jordan for its extension" adding that "there is no doubt that the entire agreement is important and dear to both our countries".

In this file photo taken on October 26, 1994, U.S. President Bill Clinton (C) applauds as Jordan's King Hussein Ibn Talal (R) and Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin shake hands during the Israeli-Jordanian Peace Treaty signing ceremony at the Araba Israeli-Jordanian border.

"Al-Baqoura and Al-Ghamr [the Arabic names] have always been our top priority, and our decision is to end Al-Baqoura's annexation and step away from the peace agreement based on our keenness to take whatever is necessary for Jordan and Jordanians", Jordan's King Abdullah II tweeted in Arabic on Sunday. The leases expire next year. "We have informed Israel (that we are putting) an end to the application of the peace treaty annexes regarding Baqura and Ghumar", said the king, quoted by official news agency Petra.

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.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not respond with much concern to the announcement on Sunday, saying that the two sides will now open negotiations.

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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. The Jordanians might already be drinking Israeli water, are scheduled to be heating their homes with Israeli natural gas in 2020, and benefit in numerous ways from security cooperation with Israel, but, for the most part, they don't like Israel.

Protesters marched in Amman on Friday demanding that Jordan reclaim sovereignty over the territories in question, while some urged Jordan to cancel the entire peace treaty with Israel.

Netanyahu said the "accord as a whole is an important thing", and called the peace deals with Jordan and Egypt "anchors of regional stability". He dismissed the possibility that Jordan might pull out of other parts of the broader peace treaty.

Israel and Jordan were embroiled a year ago 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.

Relations thawed after Israel replaced its ambassador to Amman and Netanyahu met with Abdullah last summer to stress the importance of economic and security cooperation between the two countries.

Jordan cancels part of peace agreement with Israel