Jordan rules out negotiations with Israel

Jordanian Foreign Minister says his government is not open to discussions on renewing the leases of the territories in Tzofar and Naharayim.

Elad Benari,

Ayman Safadi
Ayman Safadi
Reuters

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi said on Monday that his country had not received a request from Israel to negotiate on the renewal of the lease of lands in Naharayim and Tzofar that were leased under the peace agreement.

"We acted in accordance with the agreement and will continue to defend our interests out of a commitment to them. If international pressure is exerted on us over the issue, we will know how to deal with it," Safadi said an interview with Jordanian media.

The minister added that should there be terms or demands, they would revolve around the expiration of the two annexes.

On Sunday, King Abdullah II of Jordan announced that he had decided not to extend the part in the 1994 Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty which leases regions of the Arava and Naharayim to Israel.

These are areas which Israel ceded to Jordan in the 1994 agreement. However, Jordan agreed to lease the areas to Israel so that Israeli farmers there could cultivate the land. An addendum to the agreement stipulated that the areas would be leased out for 25 years, and either party could decide not to extend the agreement with a year’s advance notice.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu later said that while he acknowledges Jordan’s right not to extend the lease, his government will open negotiations with the kingdom to secure an extension of the lease, which is slated to end in October 2019.

“Jordan reserves the right to reclaim the [leased] area in Naharayim near the Jordan River, and the Tzofar enclave in the Arava,” said the Prime Minister.

“We were told today that [Jordan] plans on exercising this option [at the end] of the 25th year [of the lease]. We will enter into negotiations with [Jordan] to option an extension of the existing lease agreement,” he added.

The Jordanian King made the announcement following massive protests in the Jordanian capital city of Amman demanding the government scrap the agreement with Israel.

Relations between the two countries had actually improved in recent months, with a meeting also held between King Abdullah and Netanyahu. This followed a period of sour relations in the wake of the incident in which an Israeli security guard at the embassy in Amman shot and killed two people after one of them tried to attack him.


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