Jordan’s king visits enclave day after reclaimed from Israel
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Jordan’s king visited one of two small areas of land that — until a day earlier — were leased to Israel as part of their 1994 peace agreement on Monday.
King Abdullah II’s toured Baqura, a 200-acre enclave along the Jordan River in the country’s north, and tweeted that “Jordan’s sovereignty over its territory is paramount.”
Jordan’s decision to not renew the 25-year lease and to reassume control over the two small territories comes amid rocky relations with Israel. The king’s visit, along with the crown prince and top military brass, appeared to be an effort to project Jordanian authority over the newly reclaimed territory.
Jordan’s peace agreement with Israel, signed in 1994, is only the second peace deal between Israel and an Arab country, following Egypt.
Under the agreement, Jordan kept sovereignty over the enclaves but allowed Israeli farmers free access to the lands.
The Baqura and Ghamr areas were captured by Israel in 1950 and 1967, respectively. They cover around 1,200 acres of mostly farmland.
On Sunday, Jordan said Israeli farmers would be able to access the land, but would require a visa from the Jordanian Embassy in Israel, and would have to enter the kingdom at official border crossings.
Speaking at Israel’s parliament, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country has a “clear interest in keeping the peace agreement,” and underscored the importance of Jordan’s stability to Israel’s national security.
Netanyahu spoke at a special parliamentary session marking 25 years since the peace treaty with Jordan.
Despite often tense ties, Israel and Jordan maintain close security and economic cooperation.
But Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and its policies in east Jerusalem, where Jordan has custodianship over a flashpoint holy site, have soured relations between the two countries.
Half of Jordan’s population is believed to be made up of Palestinian refugees and their descendants.