King Abdullah tours Jordanian land reclaimed from Israel

King Abdullah tours Jordanian land reclaimed from Israel
King Abdullah made the popular decision to end Israeli control of two areas of Jordan.
3 min read
12 November, 2019
Jordan and Israel agreed a peace deal in 1994 [Getty]
Jordan's King Abdullah on Monday toured an annex recently reclaimed from Israel - the first time in over a quarter of a century the lands have come under Amman's control.

Protests in Jordan had demanded the government not renew the leases of Israeli-controlled enclaves along the Israel-Jordan border, when a previous agreement between the two countries ended last month.

Israel gained control of the Baqura and Al-Ghamr annexes - known as Naharayim and Tzofar by Israelis - from Jordan for a period of 25 years, as part of the Wadi Araba peace agreement that ended hostilities between the two countries.

Israel appears to have expected Amman would renew the leases or sell the land.

Last week - amid the backdrop of tense relations between the two countries - Jordan said it would refuse Israel's request to extend the lease of the two annexes, after the previous agreement expired in October.

Over the weekend, Israeli soldiers closed the gates to the territories for the last time, as they came back under Jordan's control.

"Today, I also announce the expiration of the peace treaty annexes on Al-Ghamr and Baqura and the imposition of our full sovereignty over every inch of those lands," King Abdullah said at the opening on parliament on Sunday.

On Monday, the king toured one of those annexes - Baqura, in northwestern Jordan, which Israeli farmers previously utilised.

Accompanied by his son, Crown Prince Hussein, and other military officials, the king watched as the Jordanian flag was raised above the agricultural land for the first time in at least a quarter of a century.

"Jordan's sovereignty over its lands is above all other considerations," the king said in a tweet on Monday. 

"Baqura and Al-Ghamr have always been at the top of our priorities…our decision is to terminate... [the] annexes from the peace treaty [is] out of our keenness to take all decisions that would serve Jordan and Jordanians."

The decision to reclaim sovereignty over the two enclaves led to celebrations in the kingdom, where over half the population is of Palestinian descent.

One restaurant in Amman reportedly offered free meals to customers to mark the occasion.

In Israel, there has been some unease at the Jordan's decision to reclaim the land, which coincides with marked tensions between the two neighbours, most recently over Netanyahu's pledge to annex the occupied Jordan Valley.

"There wasn't a real reconciliation," Netanyahu said, about relations between Israel and Jordan this week.

Despite this, Netanyahu said he was keen to preserve the 1994 peace deal between Jordan and Israel, despite the latest blip in relations.

"We have an outstanding interest in keeping the peace agreement due to the fact that we have our longest border with Jordan and given the short distance from the border to the Mediterranean Sea," Netanyahu said according to Times of Israel.

"The importance of stability in Jordan, like the importance of the stability in Egypt and the stability of the peace agreements or the non-takeover by Islamist elements, is in our clear interest, vis-à-vis the regime in Egypt and the regime in Jordan."

Israel and Egypt agreed a peace deal in 1979 while the Oslo Accords was agreed with the Palestinian Liberation Organisation in 1995.

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