Amman Denies Israeli Report It May Delay Return of Farming Enclave to Jordanian Control

Jordan announced its intention last year to re-assume full control of two enclaves let to Israel under the 1984 peace treaty, but Haaretz reported that secret negotiations have been underway

The Tzofar border enclave.
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Israeli sources said Wednesday that the that Jordan's king, Abdullah II, expressed willingness to defer the transfer of the Tzofar enclave on the Israeli border to full Jordanian control to allow Israeli farmers there to continue working the land. Jordan's Foreign Ministry has denied the report.

This week Haaretz reported that secret negotiations have been underway between the two sides over providing continued access to the Tzofar enclave and another border enclave in the north at Naharayim after November 8.

Under the terms of the 1994 Jordan-Israel peace treaty, the enclaves have been allowed to remain under Israeli control, but Jordan was given the option under the treaty to assume full control of both enclaves after 25 years.

Amman announced last year that it would exercise the option and, unless Jordan agrees to the extension, both areas are due to be transferred to Jordanian control on November 8.

The Israeli sources have not indicated a willingness by the Jordanian monarch to defer the transfer of the northern enclave at Naharayim. The Tzofar enclave, south of the Dead Sea, consists of 4,500 dunams (1,125 acres) of land of which about 1,100 dunams have been used for agricultural purposes by Israeli farmers, mostly to grow peppers.

The Naharayim enclave near the Sea of Galilee is an an area of importance to the tourism industry, unlike Tzofar, which is more remote and used only for agriculture.

King Abdullah opted to assert control over the areas after facing ongoing pressure from the Jordanian parliament not to renew the agreement. Eighty-seven lawmakers also signed a petition urging that the Jordan end Israel's control of the enclaves.