Israeli farmers to Jordan king: Don't cut us off from our lands

Ahead of termination of land lease, Jordan Valley Council turns to Jordan's King Abdullah. 'Let us meet and reach an agreement.'

Mordechai Sones,

"Island of Peace"; Naharayim
"Island of Peace"; Naharayim
Flash 90

Weeks before the 25-year anniversary of the signing of the peace agreement between Israel and Jordan, Naharayim-enclave farmers in the Jordan Valley turned in an urgent letter to Jordan's King Abdullah II asking him to halt the process of restoring the enclave to Jordanian kingdom possession, according to Galei Tzahal. "We ask that you not cut off more than 70 years of connection with our agricultural lands. For us it is a disaster," they wrote.

The letter was sent on behalf of the farmers by Jordan Valley Regional Council head Idan Greenbaum. In the letter, Greenbaum wrote to the Jordanian King: "I am taking the extraordinary step of writing directly to you, to avoid that which is disastrous to us. I respectfully ask you to take the opportunity to review our suggestions, you or those authorized by you, by meeting us at the 'Island of Peace' itself. We want to present the options we have to reach an agreement of some kind between us, as neighbors who respect and value each other."

In the peace agreement signed on October 26, 1994, Jordan agreed to leave the northern Arava and Naharayim enclave (including Rotenberg's power plant) in the hands of Israeli farmers then processing them. 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.

In a unilateral move last year, following a mass demonstration in Amman, Abdullah announced he had decided not to extend the part of the 1994 Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty that leases regions of the Arava and Naharayim to Israel.

In response to the announcement at the time, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipy Hotovely called the Abdullah move "evidence of Abdullah's weakness vis-a-vis the internal Jordanian pressure." Hotovely went on to say "He's in deep domestic distress, but we'll have to preserve the Israeli interest. There is a peace agreement that includes a lot of cooperation in a space that meets the Arab world's struggle against the Iranian enemy, We must also remember the considerable economic problems that Jordan needs to have addressed, including the water issue, and in general the Jordanian interest is greater than the Israeli one without spoiling the relationship."

The Jordanian palace response has not yet been received.




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