Jordan has taken back sovereignty over two slices of borderland leased to Israel for the past 25 years, including a popular tourist site.
King Abdullah II told his cabinet that Ghumar and Al-Baqoura had returned to Jordanian sovereignty after the expiry of a lease negotiated by then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Abdullah’s father under the 1994 peace agreement.
Israel has controlled both stretches of land for 70 years but the Jordanian king this week said the country would end what he called “the annex” of the two areas, and “impose our full sovereignty over every inch of them”.
One of the enclaves includes a popular tourist site near the Sea of Galilee, known in Hebrew as the “Isle of Peace,” which Israelis could visit as part of the deal.
Abdullah II has tried to assuage popular anger over Israelis’ treatment of Palestinians and continued settlement building in the West Bank. It is a sensitive issue in Jordan, given that many Jordanians have Palestinian relatives or roots.
Last year he submitted a legally-required one-year notice of termination to Israel, and last month Jordan recalled its ambassador to Israel in protest at the detention without charge of two Jordanian nationals.
Despite the strain in relations, Jordan retains a formal dialogue with Israeli leaders, in part because Jordan is legally responsible for Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque.