Jordan retakes lands leased by Israel in 1994 peace accord


AP, Amman :
Jordan's King announced Sunday that his country is retaking "full sovereignty" over two pieces of land leased by Israel, reflecting the cool relations between the neighboring countries as they mark the 25th anniversary of their landmark peace deal.
King Abdullah II had said last year that he wouldn't renew the parts of the 1994 treaty that gave Israel a 25-year lease of the two small areas, Baqura and Ghamr. Even amid mistrust and a looming deadline, Israel was hoping a solution could be found. But in a speech to parliament, the king appeared to put an end to that.
"Today, I announce the expiration of the Peace Treaty annexes on Ghamr and al-Baqura and the imposition of our full sovereignty over every inch of those lands," he said. The Israeli and Jordanian foreign ministries announced that Israeli farmers would be allowed to harvest this season's crops in Ghamr, known in Hebrew as Tsofar. They also said that Jordan would respect private land ownership rights at Baqura, or Naharayim in Hebrew.
But Jordan's Foreign Ministry said farmers would require a visa and have to enter through the country through official border crossings, instead of the former system in which they could simply enter the areas freely. "Israel regrets Jordan's decision to terminate the annexes," the Israeli Foreign Ministry said.
The announcement marked a new blow to relations that, after the treaty, began with great optimism but have steadily deteriorated. Jordan's agreement is only the second peace deal between Israel and an Arab country, following Egypt.