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Can Jordan revoke its peace treaty with Israel?

The application of Israeli law to parts of Judea and Samaria, even if not favored by Jordan, would not constitute an act of aggression against Jordan and thus would not be grounds for revoking the treaty.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (left) and King Hussein of Jordan shake hands as U.S. President Bill Clinton looks on, after the signing of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, on Oct. 26, 1994. Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (left) and King Hussein of Jordan shake hands as U.S. President Bill Clinton looks on, after the signing of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, on Oct. 26, 1994. Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO.
Alan Baker (JCPA)
Alan Baker
Amb. Alan Baker is director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Following warnings to Israel by King Abdullah of Jordan of a “massive conflict” if Israel proceeds with plans to apply Israeli law to parts of Judea and Samaria, some political and media commentators and sources are referring to a possibility that Jordan might revoke its peace treaty with Israel.

A peace treaty, by its very nature, is not bound by any specific time limit, and is not given to cancellation or revocation, unless by declaration of war or act of aggression by one of the parties to the treaty, constituting a revocation of the very basis of the peace relationship, which includes mutual acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the other party (article 2).

It is highly unlikely that Jordan would want to take such a step, especially in light of the fact that a unilateral act by Israel of applying law or sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria, even if not favored by Jordan, would not constitute an act of aggression against Jordan’s sovereignty or territorial integrity and as such would not be grounds for revoking the treaty.

Since the issue of the status of Judea and Samaria is, in article 3, specifically excluded from the border delimitation provisions of their respective territory, Jordan cannot claim that unilateral application of law or sovereignty by Israel in such territories constitutes a violation of the peace treaty or grounds for its revocation.

Since the Israel-Jordan peace treaty determines such basic bilateral components of their relationship as the delineation of the international border between them (article 3), bilateral security arrangements (article 4), full diplomatic and consular relations as well as normal economic and cultural relations (article 5), it would appear to be virtually impossible to regress backwards from peaceful to hostile relations, unless one side conducts an act of aggression against the other.

Some of the central components of the peace relationship represent interests that are vital to Jordan such as water allocations (article 6), economic relations (article 7), Jordan’s special historic role in Muslim holy shrines in Jerusalem (article 9), freedom of navigation and access to ports (article 14), and civil aviation and rights of overflight, including Jordanian overflight of Israeli territory to reach points in Europe (article 15). To cancel or revoke such vital components would not serve the interests of Jordan and would undermine its very stability.

The parties agreed, in article 25, to fulfill in good faith their obligations without regard to action or inaction of any other party and independently of any other instrument inconsistent with the peace treaty.

Should Jordan wish to solve a dispute with Israel regarding the application or interpretation of the peace treaty, article 29 establishes a dispute settlement mechanism of negotiation, conciliation, or arbitration.

Alan Baker is director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center and the head of the Global Law Forum. He participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians, as well as agreements and peace treaties with Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. He served as legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry and as Israel’s ambassador to Canada.

This article was first published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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