Jordan Reclaims Leased Israeli Land
The 1994 Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty granted Israel a lease on approximately 1,000 acres of farmland. Now Israeli farmers are being pushed off the land, as Jordan’s King Abdullah chose to “end Article 2 of Annex 1 of the Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty” in October 2018 and enforced the termination of the lease last Sunday (November 10), according to worldisraelnews.com. When the treaty was signed, Jordan gave Israel a 25-year lease on the area, but now Jewish farmers are scrambling to recover from the loss of large amounts of land. Their request for a six-month extension to finish harvesting their crops was denied, though Jordan’s foreign minister offered to pay Israel for the crops. Reports have conflicted, however, as Haaretz reports that the Israeli Army claims that the lease has indeed been extended until April
While King Abdullah acted ethically and in the interest of his people, it certainly isn’t going to earn him any brownie points with Israel. Jordan relies on tens of millions of cubic meters of water supplied by Israel, and Israel shares its airspace with the country as well. Abdullah was within his rights to choose not to extend a new lease, but ignoring Israel’s goodwill in this way is somewhat surprising. It seems Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had ample time to negotiate a new lease and chose not to. Time will tell if this is a missed opportunity or a natural conclusion to an agreement that benefited Israel over the course of 25 years. Likewise, we’ll have to wait to see whether King Abdullah has prioritized short-term optics by using a position of strength over Israel or if all is well and nothing has been done that would disrupt long-term peace. Nevertheless, good relations between Israel and neighboring Jordan are crucial to both countries, as they face enough problems from their Middle East neighbors without starting another conflict with each other.