Jordan's king to scrap part of Israel peace treaty

Jordan shocks Jerusalem downgrades peace treaty with Israel

Jordan's King Abdullah II announced on Sunday he would not renew part of the 1994 peace treaty that granted Israel use of two small agricultural areas along the border.

"Our priorities in such hard regional circumstances are protecting our interests and doing everything necessary for Jordan and the Jordanians", Abdullah II noted, adding that Israel had been made aware of the decision.

"Our decision is to terminate the Baqoura and Ghamar annexes from the peace treaty out of our keenness to take all decisions that would serve Jordan and Jordanians".

Just as the Israel-Jordan peace treaty stipulates that one side can announce that it wants to opt out of the annexes, the agreement also stipulated that when it does so, the two countries will open consultations.

The monarch has been under increasing public pressure to end the leasing arrangements, which expire next year.

"Baqura and Ghamr are Jordanian territory and will remain Jordanian, and we exercise full sovereignty over our land", the King said, as quoted by the state-owned Jordan News Agency (Petra).

Baqura, in the northern Jordan Valley, was captured by Israel in 1950. "We will go into negotiations with them on the option of extending the existing agreement", Netanyahu said. "There is no doubt the agreement is an important asset", he said, praising the peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt as "anchors of regional stability".

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Jordan has for months expressed frustration that Israel is dragging its feet in implementing an agreement signed in 2015 that would have a desalination plant for Jordan built in Aqaba, from which Israel will purchase for its south and allowing it to sell more water to Jordan from lake Kinneret for Jordan's north, where there is a mighty increase because of the estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees who have filtered down as a result of the Syrian Civil War.

The case of Baqoura could provide a predicament for Israel and Jordan given a possible dispute over land rights. He dismissed the possibility that Jordan might pull out of other parts of the broader peace treaty.

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.

It follows recent strains in the relationship between Jordan and Israel over issues including the status of Jerusalem and the lack of progress on a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel and Jordan reached an agreement to end the diplomatic fight in January, when a Jordanian government spokesperson said he had received from Israel an "official memorandum" apologizing for the deaths of the two Jordanians, as well as for the killing of a Jordanian judge in a separate incident in 2014.

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