Jordan plans to revoke parts of its peace treaty with Israel

Jordan's King Abdullah II on Sunday said he has decided not to renew the lease on two small areas of Baqura and Ghamr, that was part of his country's landmark peace treaty with Israel.

King Abdullah said that the decision was made to protect Jordanian interests and "do whatever is necessary for Jordan & Jordanians", and that the two areas "were at the top of our priorities".

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel would start negotiations aimed at extending the lease.

Earlier King Abdullah of Jordan issued a statement saying it wanted to end the lease, which has seen the two areas, covering a total of about 405 hectares (1,000 acres), cultivated by Israeli farmers. Last Friday, demonstrators in Amman took to the streets urging him to exercise Jordanian sovereignty with some even pushing for the Wadi Araba peace treaty to be rescinded altogether.

He added, "Baqura and Ghumar have always been at the top of our priorities, and we have chose to put an end to the application of the peace treaty annexes regarding Baqura and Ghumar".

Under the 1994 peace treaty, Israel was allowed private land ownership rights and property interests in the two areas for 25 years.

The agreement will expire next year.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein of Jordan sign the Washington Agreement on the White House Lawn as U.S. President Bill Clinton watches.

Israel and Jordan were embroiled a year ago in a diplomatic standoff following the shooting deaths of two Jordanians in July 2017 by an Israeli security guard, Ziv Moyal, who Israel said opened fire in self-defense after one of the men tried to stab him.

Last week, mass demonstrations took place in Amman, as well as social media campaigns demanding that Jordan reclaim sovereignty over Baqura and Ghamr, with slogans such as "The people want national honor" and "The story is about national sovereignty". Many in Jordan have recently called on their government not to renew the agreement with Israel. They signed a trade treaty in 1996 and in 2014, agreed to a $500 million natural gas deal effective for 15 years.

It is unclear how and when the territories will be returned back to Jordan's ownership.

Political ties have also become strained over the Middle East peace process.

Jordanian security forces stand on guard as protesters wave Jordanian flags and chant slogans during a demonstration near the Israeli embassy in the capital Amman on July 28, 2017.

Israel's former ambassador to Jordan, Oded Eran, said he was not surprised by Jordan's decision, and said there was still time for the two countries to re-negotiate the agreement.