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World Israeli farmers lament the end of Jordan land deal

14:30  10 november  2019
14:30  10 november  2019 Source:   reuters.com

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A deal dating from Israel ’s historic 1994 peace treaty with Jordan allowing Israeli farmers to lease two sites along their common border runs out Sunday but Officials in Israel have expressed concerns that the ending of the lease signaled a desire on Jordan ’s part to effectively downgrade diplomatic ties

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NAHARAYIM (Reuters) - It has been a bitter harvest for some Israeli farmers on the border with Jordan. On Sunday, a 25-year-old deal between the two countries that has allowed them to cultivate land there formally expires.

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TSOFAR, Israel – Israeli farmers on Monday voiced concern over Jordan 's intention not to renew parts of its landmark peace treaty with Israel that leased out two small Last week saw a large protest against renewing the agriculture lease. Eran Baron, an Israeli farmer in the border village of Tsofar

Israel will need to bid a farewell to two parcels of agricultural land on Sunday after Jordanians terminated their lease and claimed the territory back. According to the agreement, Jordan gave its lands as a lease to Israeli farmers but had the right to either extend the lease or cease it after the 25

Under the deal, part of the 1994 Jordan-Israel peace treaty, two territories straddling the border were recognized as under Jordanian sovereignty but with special provisions allowing Israeli farmers to work the land and visitors to tour the Isle of Peace park in the area.

But in 2018, Jordan said it did not want to continue the arrangement, in what was widely seen as a sign of increasingly strained diplomatic relations.

"It was like a punch to the face," said Eli Arazi, 74, a farmer whose kibbutz, or agricultural community, worked one of the land parcels that in Hebrew is called Naharayim and in Arabic, Baqoura.

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Jordan said 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. Jordan 's King Abdullah has been under increasing public pressure to end the arrangements with Israel , and told

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Naharayim, which means "two rivers" in Hebrew, straddles the confluence of the Yarmouk and Jordan rivers. Israelis trace private ownership rights there to the 1920s, when the territory was part of British-mandated Palestine.

Arazi said his kibbutz, Ashdot Yaacov Meuhad, had been growing crops there for 70 years, including olives, bananas, avocados.

In the 1994 peace treaty, Jordanian sovereignty over the area was confirmed, while Israelis retained private land ownership and special provisions that allow free travel.

Jordan is one of only two Arab states that has a peace accord with Israel, and the neighbors have a long history of close security ties. But the treaty is unpopular in Jordan where pro-Palestinian sentiment is widespread.

The end of the land deal came at a low point in Israeli-Jordanian relations, said Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel. "We are not on a honeymoon but rather in a period of ongoing arguments," he told Reuters.

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Eran Baron, an Israeli farmer in the border village of Tzofar, said that farmers like him have invested lots of resources in the enclave, along the southern The two parcels of land are just a few square kilometers that have been used by Israelis for decades. But they hold symbolic meaning for Jordan .

Naharayim ( Israel ) (AFP). Israelis were prevented from entering Jordanian border enclaves on Sunday after a deal allowing farmers to work land there expired, 25 years after a landmark peace treaty. Since the two countries signed the deal in 1994, Jordan has allowed Israeli farmers access

Most recently, Amman was rattled by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's promise during campaigning for a September election to annex the Jordan Valley.

Over the past few years, the deadlock in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and disputes over a Jerusalem compound, sacred to both Muslims and Jews, have further weighed on diplomatic ties.

The government, Ariel said, should have taken action earlier to try to convince Jordan to extend the deal and let the farmers work the land.

Arazi is still hopeful that eventually Jordan will quietly let the farmers back.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Sunday that Amman granted his fellow farmers in Tzofar, the second land parcel further south, another six months of access to the land. Jordanian and Israeli officials did not respond to request for comment.

(Editing by Maayan Lubell and Helen Popper)

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