JERUSALEM – Under internal political pressure, King Abdullah II of Jordan [söndag] announced that he cut off the free access of Israel to two areas of land along the border that fall in sovereign Jordanian territories, but where Jews have historically had private land use rights.
Israeli farmers and tourists have almost a quarter of a century, as part of the 1994 peace treaty between the two former enemies, had the fruits and picturesque attractions of the areas. One of them, a trade fair about 1
0 miles south of the Galilean Sea, nestled between Jordan and Yarmouk rivers, is known in Hebrew as the “French Island”.
“Al-Baqura and Al-Ghamr have always been our highest priority,” said King Abdullah, referring to the two territories with their Jordanian names.
The royal decision was confirmed at an emergency session in Jordan’s cabinet where the King said Jordan would “exercise full sovereignty” across his country.
The decision came as an unwelcome surprise for the Israelis, but would not affect any immediate diplomatic crisis. According to the peace agreement, the special arrangement would be in force for 25 years and may be renewed automatically or terminated with one year’s notice from either party. The deadline arrived at the end of the week.
However, the decision revealed underlying tension in the region.
Although Israeli-Jewish peace has proved to be firm and lasting, it has not been popular with common Jordanians, who are still struggling economically.
Small protests have been held in Jordan in recent days over the fate of the two areas, and many legislators signed an application to suspend the arrangement, which is also referred to as a distraction from a new taxpost.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel said his country would enter into negotiations with Jordan regarding the possibility of extending the current arrangement, as provided for in the Treaty.
Speaking at a prime minister of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, killed by a Jewish extremist one year after signing the Treaty with Jordan, Netanyahu emphasized his strategic value. “Without a doubt,” he said, “a broad picture of the agreement as a whole, it is a very important asset, dear and dear to both countries.”
The Israeli-Jewish relations have also been strained by years of death in the Palestinian peace process.
By that time, Jordan was raging over Israel’s location of metal detectors at the entrance to the Aqsa Mosque Association in Jerusalem’s Old City. They were removed under pressure from Jordan, the guardian.
Al-Ghamr, one of the two areas Jordan recovers, is currently being cultivated by members of Zofar, an agricultural cooperative city in the Arava region of Southern Israel.
Eitan Lipszyc, the co-ordinator of the 98-family cooperative, said no-one had raised the possibility for the villagers that the cancellation of the event was the same on the agenda.
“I am very surprised,” he said by telephone. “I did not even know what I would think. No one predicted it.”
Mr.. Lipszyc said there would be a “disaster” for the village, which grows vegetables at about 370 hectares across the Jordanian side of the line.
The second site, also known as Naharayim or two Hebrew rivers, has become a popular destination for Israeli visitors who will enjoy the prospects and history of the area.
The natural beauty was overthrown when, during three years after the signing of the peace treaty, a Jordanian soldier went on a shooting ramp that killed seven Israeli schoolgirls visiting the border area. The island also contains a scene for the victims of the attack from 1997.
Gidon Bromberg, Israeli director of EcoPeace Middle East, a trilateral organization that assembles earthly, Palestinian and Israeli environmentalists to deal with common problems, Jordanian decisions and the expected negotiations could give an opportunity.
Advocated for a common peace park that would contest Jordan and Israel, he claimed that a more mutual arrangement in the area could help to develop what he called his enormous tourism potential. “