Jordan says Israel wants to discuss border land deals

Jordan's Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi, addresses the opening of the 14th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Manama Dialogue in the Bahraini capital Manama. (AFP)
Updated 05 November 2018
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Jordan says Israel wants to discuss border land deals

AMMAN: Jordan said on Sunday Israel had asked for consultations on a special land deal agreed in their peace treaty that the Jordanian government wants to end.
Under the peace treaty, two border areas were recognized to be under Jordanian sovereignty but gave Israel special provisions to use the land and allow Israelis free access.
Jordan formally notified Israel two weeks ago it would not renew the 25-year deal over Baquora where the Yarmouk River flows into the Jordan River and in the Ghumar area in the southern Wadi Araba desert where Israeli farmers have large plantations.
Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told Reuters after the decision the Kingdom was waiting for Israel to invoke a provision in the peace treaty to hold consultations after giving notice before the deadline.
Petra state news agency quoted government spokeswoman Jumana Ghunaimat as saying Jordan had received the Israeli request but did not say when the discussions would begin.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged Jordan’s move and said his country sought to enter negotiations on the possibility of extending the arrangement.
The 25-year special regime would be automatically renewed unless either of the parties notified the other a year before expiry that it wished to terminate the agreement.
Safadi said the deal, which was signed in November 1994, had been conceived as a temporary arrangement from the start. The kingdom had contemplated the move for a while before the Nov. 10 deadline.
King Abdullah, who stressed the territories were Jordanian lands and would remain so, said the move was made in the “national interest” at a period of regional turmoil.
Jordan is one of only two Arab states that has a peace treaty with Israel and the two countries have a long history of close security ties. But the treaty is unpopular in Jordan where pro-Palestinian sentiment is widespread.


Amnesty slams Iranian execution of two men charged of financial crimes

Updated 42 min 9 sec ago
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Amnesty slams Iranian execution of two men charged of financial crimes

LONDON: After two men convicted of financial crimes were executed in Iran, Amnesty International has strongly criticized the Iranian regime.
Vahid Mazloumin and Mohammad Esmail Ghasemi were put to death after a trial Amnesty has called “grossly unfair.”
Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director, Philip Luther, said of the case: “With these abhorrent executions the Iranian authorities have flagrantly violated international law and once again displayed their shameless disregard for the right to life.
“Use of the death penalty is appalling under any circumstances but it is even more horrific given that these men were convicted after a grossly unfair show trial that was broadcast on state television. Under international human rights law, the death penalty is absolutely forbidden for non-lethal crimes, such as financial corruption.
“The shocking manner in which their trial was fast-tracked through Iran’s judicial system without allowing them the chance of a proper appeal is yet another example of the brazen disregard the Iranian authorities have for defendants’ basic due process rights.”
The duo were executed after being charged with “manipulating coin and hard currency markets through illegal and unauthorized deals” as well as smuggling. An unspecified number of other accomplices went to prison.
Iran detained Mazloumin, 58, in July for hoarding two tons of gold coins.
With Iran in the grip of a deepening economic crisis, authorities have carried out mass arrests of individuals whom they accuse of being “financially corrupt” and “saboteurs of the economy.”
According to Amnesty, the pair were convicted and sentenced to flogging, lengthy prison terms and eventually the death penalty after “grossly unfair summary trials.”
In August, Iran’s Supreme Leader approved a request by the Head of Judiciary to set up special courts to deal with crimes involving financial corruption. Since then, these courts have sentenced several people to death.
In a statement, Amnesty said the trials were unfair because defendants were denied access to lawyers of their own choosing, had no right to appeal against sentences of imprisonment during the process and were given only 10 days within which to appeal death sentences.