Photo Credit: State Department photo via Wikimedia Commons.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi signs U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo's guestbook before their meeting at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 22, 2018.

(via JNS) In a surprise move, Jordan’s foreign minister issued a formal directive to the kingdom’s Justice Ministry this week forbidding the approval of any real estate transactions conducted in Judea and Samaria.

“All notaries throughout all the districts in the kingdom must cease their dealings with agencies with regards to [deals pertaining to] the state of Palestine,” wrote Ayman Safadi. “The Jordan Bar Association must clarify the issue with all lawyers and refrain from finalizing any deed of sale regarding Palestinian lands,” the directive continued.

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As a result, the Jordan Bar Association, which is known for its animosity toward Israel, issued an identical directive to its members, calling on them “not to settle any sale agreements of Palestinian land.”

Jordan controlled the area from 1948-1967, meaning Amman allocated and registered many plots of land on behalf of local Arab residents. The documents remain legally valid to this day and are often cited by Israeli courts. However, Jordan has a longstanding policy of banning real estate transactions in Judea and Samaria, and it is therefore unclear why Safadi issues the official directive at this time. Palestinian officials requested in 2019 that Jordan authorities issue an official ban on such deals.

Under Palestinian law, selling real estate to a Jew is punishable by death. Jews wishing to purchase land in Judea and Samaria often do so secretly, using Palestinian realtors who later leave the area or move abroad.

The move is especially surprising given that last July, Safadi met with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and the two announced new trade and water agreements. Just last week, Jerusalem formally agreed to sell 50 billion liters of water a year to Amman, doubling what it already supplies.

With regard to the directive, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it was “being handled vis-à-vis the Jordanian government.”

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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Ariel Kahana is a diplomatic correspondent for Israel Hayom.