Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty

On October 26, 1994, Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty. The treaty was especially relevant for tourism. According to Annex V, the Israeli/Jordanian border is to be open in both directions for Israelis, Jordanians, and third country nationals. Existing arrangements are to remain in place for Muslim Israelis who cross into Jordan in transit to Saudi Arabia (which has yet to recognize the State of Israel) for Muslim pilgrimages. Also, border crossing points are to be open from 8:00 AM to 6:30 PM (but closed on Yom Kippur and on the first day of the Muslim Al Hijrah calendar). By contrast, Israel’s widely-used Eilat/Taba (Egypt) border is open 24 hours. Furthermore, anyone crossing into Jordan from Israel must pay border taxes, whereas people crossing from Israel into Taba only (as opposed to those planning to visit the rest of Egypt) do not pay any border fees. It is thus far more comfortable and convenient for tourists to cross the border between Israel and Egypt than the border between Israel and Jordan.

Although very little was done in the way of land transfers, one particular transfer is worth mentioning: the area on the northern Jordanian/Israeli border known in Israel as Naharayim and in Jordan as Baqura, some of which came under Jordanian sovereignty. Israeli landowners, however, along with their employees and guests, were permitted to go in and out as often as they wished, with no customs or immigration restrictions of any kind. In a very unusual move, the Annex declares that, while the land is under Jordanian sovereignty, the Israeli police department has jurisdiction over incidents "solely involving the [Israeli] landowners, their invitees or employees." Further, Jordanian law does not apply to activities in which only Israelis are involved. Land purchases by non-Israelis, however, can only be done with Jordanian approval.

The Naharayim/Baqura region is known for its beautiful nature trails. The peace treaty is thus important in that it eases access to the area for tourists coming from both Jordan and Israel. According to an account by Haim Shapiro, "During a recent tour of the site..., we entered the Jordanian area without visas, having only registered our Israeli identity cards with the Israeli police post. A Jordanian officer briefly boarded our bus and in fluent Hebrew asked whether he could wish us Shabbat Shalom even if it was only noon Friday. As we toured the area in our Israeli bus, a Jordanian bus entered the area from the other side. The passengers in each waved to each other." (Haim Shapiro, "Day Tripper: Down by the Riverside," The Jerusalem Post, March 21, 1997.)

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The Situation Since September 2000

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