Jordan demands Israel RETURN land leased under 1994 peace treaty

Jordan shocks Jerusalem downgrades peace treaty with Israel

Jordan's King Abdllah II Jordan shocks Jerusalem downgrades peace treaty with Israel

Jordan announced Sunday its withdrawal from part of the 1994 peace agreement with Israel, saying the agricultural areas of Naharayim and Zofar in the Jordan Valley, cultivated by Israeli farmers over the past 25 years, will be reclaimed by the kingdom.

"Al-Baqura and al-Ghumar are Jordanian land and will remain Jordanian". "Historically speaking, the relationship between Israel and Jordan has existed for many years, and, simply put, Jordan can not exist without Israel".

"Baqoura and Ghamr have always been at the top of our priorities and our decision is to terminate the annexation of Baqoura and Ghamr from the peace treaty is based on our commitment to take all necessary decisions for Jordan and Jordanians", the King said in an Arabic tweet.

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".

The king said in a tweet on Sunday that Jordan will be pulling out of two annexes from the peace agreement allowing Israel to lease the areas of Baqoura and Ghumar.

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He stressed that he will work with Jordan in an effort to try to renegotiate the land agreement which is automatically renewable unless either Tel Aviv or Amman give a year's notice to terminate the deal.

"We will enter into negotiations with the possibility of extending the existing arrangement".

Jordan is one of only two Arab states that has a peace treaty with Israel and the two countries have a long history of close security ties. They signed a trade treaty in 1996 and in 2014, agreed to a $500 million natural gas deal effective for 15 years.

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

Article 29 from the Wadi Araba peace treaty between Jordan and Israel states that resolving conflicts will be done through agreement between parties, and if that fails then it will be turned to arbitration.

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It is unclear how and when the territories will be returned back to Jordan's ownership.

Speaking before the king's announcement, Rula Hroub, a former Jordanian MP who heads the Al Urdun Aqwa (Jordan is stronger) Party and one of the participants in the march, told Middle East Eye: "The government position is elusive, and their response to political and popular protests is weak, and we want to send a clear message that we are not interested in the renewal of this annex".

He added that no doubt the bilateral agreement "is an important asset".

More recently, relations have been strained over the status of the flashpoint al-Aqsa Mosque compound, referred to by Jews as the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem and in the aftermath of a shooting at the Israeli Embassy in Amman in which two Jordanian citizens were killed.

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.

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