Photo Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90
The Schoener Farm pepper plantation in the Tzofar enclave, February 14, 2018.

Senior officials have told Kan 11 News on Wednesday that it appears the Israeli agricultural activity in Tsofar Enclave would be prolonged by several months, as part of the negotiations between the governments of Israel and Jordan regarding the future of the territory.

According to those officials, an extension of the Israeli activity at Tsofar enclave is currently underway for one more agricultural season, a period of about six months. The extension was granted to discuss “future business models” that would allow the continued operations of Israeli farmers there.

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It was also reported that discussions of this matter continue, led by Israel’s National Security Council.

But a statement from the Jordanian Foreign Ministry said the reports that Jordan has agreed to extend or renew the leases on the Tzofar and Naharayim enclaves are incorrect. Foreign Ministry spokesman Sufian al-Qudah said the validity of the peace agreement’s appendices regarding the lease of the two enclaves will end on November 10, and that the consultations Jordan has been holding with Israel concern the termination of the lease – not its renewal.

The Tzofar enclave is an Israeli enclave located inside Jordanian territory. According to the Israel-Jordan Peace Agreement signed in October 1994, the land was transferred to Jordanian sovereignty and leased by the State of Israel for 25 years, with an option to renew.

The enclave is next to Moshav Tzofar in the Arava desert, hence its name. It comprises 1,112 acres, of which 371 acres are cultivated as agricultural land, growing mainly peppers.

The Nahariim enclave further north, where the Yarmouk River flows into the Jordan River, is the location of the Island of Peace park, at the border crossing, which is a tourist site in the buffer zone between Jordan and Israel. The area is cultivated by local kibbutz farmers.

Last week, Jordan Valley Regional Council head Idan Greenbaum sent a letter to Jordan’s King Abdullah, asking to meet with the king to discuss renewing the lease (see: Jordan Valley Council Appealing to King Abdullah for Help in Preserving Israeli Lands). The king did not reply.

This Friday, Jordan Valley residents will hold a protest rally in Nahariyim, in an attempt to mobilize public opinion and change the situation. The residents complain that over the entire year since the King of Jordan announced his plan not to renew their leases, no one in the Israeli government has spoken to local farmers about compensation for the land they would lose, or being awarded new agricultural land.

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