A Jordan-Israel peace treaty authorized the "free provision" of land in the Baqoura and Ghoumar areas to Israelis from 1994 until today.
Israelis were not able to access, on Sunday, November 10, the agricultural land that Jordan had lent them during the last quarter of a century, sometimes finding padlocked gates. Indeed, the annexes to the Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty of 1994, which authorized the "Free provision" Land in the areas of Baqoura (Arabic, Naharayim in Hebrew) and Ghoumar (called Tzofar in Hebrew) to private Israeli owners for an initial period of 25 years, expired on Sunday.
"I proclaim the end of the validity of the annexes to the peace agreement (…) and the restoration of our total sovereignty over these territories"said King Abdullah II of Jordan to Parliament in Amman. In Israel, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said "Regret the decision of Jordan".
Baqoura (in Arabic) is an area of some 6 km2 located at the confluence of the Jordan and Yarmouk, on the northern part of the Israeli-Jordanian border. Ghoumar is an area of about 4 km2, on the line separating the two countries in the south.
On Sunday, in Naharayim, two yellow gates leading to an old dam and further to a checkpoint were chained and locked, preventing access to the site now under Jordanian control, according to a team of Agence France-Presse (AFP) on square. According to local officials, Israeli soldiers came on the scene the day before at the end of the day to lock in the access to the site, on the Israeli side. On a hill on the other side, military vehicles circulated and a Jordanian flag floated between two large tents where a ceremony was to be held on Monday in the presence of Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.
No agreement found to maintain status quo
For Israeli traders, such as Adva Algarisi, manager of a local tourism company that regularly brought visitors to this site on guided tours, "It's a big loss". "It's near the lake (from Tiberias), Christian sites, holy places … we were talking about the relationship with Jordan, the peace process, the coexistence with our neighbors, it's a unique site "added the 46-year-old woman who grew up in this region of northeastern Israel.
Farmers from two neighboring kibbutz cultivated cereals, fruits and vegetables. "Two weeks ago, and last week again, I asked the Jordanians to be able to sow and work the land, but they have forbidden me"said Shay Hadar, 47.
Jordan's recovery of these lands is not a surprise. In October 2018, King Abdullah II notified Israel of his desire to recover these border areas. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu then said he wanted to open negotiations to maintain the status quo, but no agreement was reached to extend the agreement, which irritates many Israelis on the spot.
To quell the frustrations, the Jordanian authorities said on Sunday that they would allow Israeli farmers to cultivate their fields across the border, but after receiving a visa from the Jordanian Embassy in Tel Aviv. But this seems to be compromised for the moment: Jordan recalled at the end of October its ambassador in Tel Aviv to protest against the detention without charge in Israel of two young Jordanians, who have, however, been released in recent days.