Jordan declares intent not to renew land lease to Israel

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

On Sunday, King Abdullah II of Jordan announced his decision not to renew Israel's lease of two tracts of land on Jordan's side of the border. The lease, agreed upon in a 1994 Israel–Jordan peace treaty, is set to expire next year.

The territories specified in the treaty are Naharayim and Tzofar; in Arabic, Baqura and Ghamr; between them about 405 hectares (1,000 acres; about one and a half square miles). Both tracts have served as agricultural land for Israeli farmers. Eyal Blum, the head of Central Arava Regional Council, in a statement said in Tzofar about 30 Israeli farmers will be affected if a new agreement is not reached.

Leading up to his announcement, protests in Jordanian capital Amman on Friday urged the king not to renew, as did a petition reportedly signed by at least 80 members of Jordan's parliament.

In response to the announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated his intent to enter negotiations to "extend the existing agreement", which states that the lease renews automatically unless either party wishes otherwise, and that party must give a year's notice. The deadline for this notice is Thursday.