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Jordan said on Sunday it would not extend the 25-year deal that allows Israel to use two tracts of territory along its border, just as Israel said it was still planning to negotiate an extension.

Much of the land in Baquora in the northwestern part of the kingdom and Ghumar in the south is used by Israeli farmers, some of whom were given private land ownership rights and special travel rights under a 1994 peace treaty between the two countries.

The agreement will expire next year.

King Abdullah has been under increasing public pressure to end the arrangement with Israel. He told senior Jordanian politicians the kingdom wanted to exercise its “full sovereignty” over the two areas, Petra state news agency said.

“These are Jordanian lands and they will remain,” the monarch said. In an “era of regional turmoil,” his kingdom – sandwiched between Syria to the north, Iraq to the east and Israel to its west – wanted to protect its “national interests,” King Abdullah said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking after King Abdullah’s comments on Sunday, acknowledged that Jordan wanted to exercise its option to end the arrangement.

But he said Israel “will enter negotiations with it on the possibility of extending the current arrangement.”

Under the terms of peace treaty, the lease would be automatically renewed unless either of the parties notify the other a year before its expiry of its wish to terminate the agreement, the Israeli Foreign Ministry also said in a statement on Sunday.

Jordan is one of only two Arab states that has a peace treaty with Israel, and the two countries have a long history of close security ties. They have also been expanding economic ties in the last year.

But the peace treaty with Israel is unpopular and pro-Palestinian sentiment is widespread in Jordan. Activists and politicians have been vocal against a renewal they say perpetuates Israeli “occupation” of Jordanian territory.

Political ties have also become strained over the Middle East peace process. An incident last year in which an Israeli security guard killed two Jordanian citizens within the Israeli embassy compound added to the tension.

Under an annex to the peace agreement, Israel uses about 1,000 acres of agricultural land in the southern sector of its border with Jordan.

In the Baquora area, known in Hebrew as Naharayim, Israeli citizens' “ownership rights” date back to 1920s, when Russian Jewish engineer Pinhas Rutenberg obtained a concession in British-mandated Palestine to build a power plant.


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