Jordan said on Thursday its commitment to uphold a peace treaty with Israel was not in question despite ending a 25-year special regime that allows its neighbor to use two parcels of land along its borders that are under Jordanian sovereignty.
Jordan formally notified Israel on Sunday it would not renew the deal over Baquora, where the Yarmouk River flows into the Jordan River, and in the Ghumar area in the southern Wadi Araba desert where Israeli farmers have substantial crops.
King Abdullah, who stressed the territories were Jordanian lands and would remain so, said the move was made in the “national interest” at a period of regional turmoil.
Under the peace treaty, the two areas were recognized to be under Jordanian sovereignty but gave Israel special provisions to use the land and allow Israelis free access, while in the Baquora area Israeli private property rights were respected.
Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the deal, which was signed in November 1994, had been conceived as a temporary arrangement from the start.
“That is why there was a time cap on it … We acted within the provisions of the peace treaty. This is an indication of our commitment to the peace treaty. There has never been a question of our solid commitment to the treaty,” Safadi told Reuters.
Safadi said the kingdom had contemplated the move for a while before the Nov. 10 deadline.
Under the peace treaty, the deal would be automatically renewed unless either of the parties notified the other a year before expiration that it wished to terminate the agreement.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu acknowledged Jordan’s move and said his country sought to enter negotiations on the possibility of extending the arrangement.
The kingdom was now awaiting Israel invoking a provision in the treaty to hold consultations after giving notice before the deadline, Safadi said.
“There will be no negotiations over sovereignty. But we will fulfill our obligation to engage in consultations to implement the termination, ” Safadi added.