Israel threatens to cut water to Jordan

Karte Israel Jordanien EN

Jordan's King Abdullah II says he plans to pull out of annexes from the 1994 peace agreement that allow Israel to lease Ghamr and the northern enclave of Baqura for 25 years.

As part of the agreement, Israel leased about 405 hectares of agricultural land in the southern sector of its border with Jordan called al-Ghumar, as well as the small al-Baqura area near the confluence of Jordan and Yarmouk rivers.

"We have informed Israel [that we are putting] an end to the application of the peace treaty annexes regarding Baqura and Ghumar", said King Abdullah on Sunday, quoted by Jordan's official news agency Petra.

"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.

"Baqura and Ghamr are Jordanian territory and will remain Jordanian and we will exercise full sovereignty over the land", he announced. "Our priority in these regional circumstances is to protect our interests and do whatever is required for Jordan and the Jordanians".

Abdullah did not give a reason for his decision, but he has faced escalating domestic pressure to end the lease and return the territories to full Jordanian control.

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There was no immediate Israeli reaction.

In the meantime, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cautiously expressed hope that Jordanians will change their mind.

A political analyst in the Jordanian capital of Amman, Oraib al-Rantawi said: "The King saw the popular rejection against keeping this agreement with Israel, especially in the last few months where economic decline in the country has led to mass protests - and he wisely decided against it". He spoke at a memorial for the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who signed the peace deal with Jordan. "Jordan needs Israel more than Israel needs Jordan", he said. The soldier, Ahmed Daqamseh, was apprehended by Jordanian forces and sentenced to life in prison, but was released before he served even 20 years. "We will go into negotiations with them on the option of extending the existing agreement", Netanyahu said.

Protesters marched in Amman on Friday demanding that Jordan reclaim sovereignty over the territories in question, while some urged Jordan to cancel the entire peace treaty with Israel.

Under the treaty, Israel retained private land ownership and special travel rights in Baquora in the northwestern part of the kingdom and Ghumar in the south. They have also been expanding economic ties in the a year ago. The deal helped Amman to pave the way for United States economic and military assistance to the country.

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