Nearly three years later, in March 1997, a group of schoolgirls from Beit Shemesh participated in an outing to Naharayim. The girls and their unarmed teachers were standing on a hill above an abandoned lake in the enclave when a Jordanian soldier aimed his weapon in their direction and pulled the trigger. Seven girls were killed in the massacre.
Following that tragic event, the late King Hussein made an unprecedented trip to each of the victims’ homes to express his personal sorrow and the grief of his nation. Eventually, new security arrangements were finalized that ensured the safety of Israeli visitors.
Due to that spirit of cooperation, and in spite of the bloodshed, the so-called island became known as the Isle of Peace.
On Sunday, a year ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Israel-Jordan peace accord, Jordan’s King Abdullah II announced he would not be renewing the specific agreement — dismantling the Isle of Peace, and deeply denting the fragile truce that has lasted for almost a quarter of a century.
But, while Israeli officials had reportedly been aware in recent months of Jordanian murmurings to cancel the land agreement, Abdullah’s announcement — and particularly the sharp tone of his statement — came as something of a surprise.
Abdullah may also have been keen to distance himself from close ties to Israel, amid tense relations between the Palestinian Authority and the US administration, seeking to clearly place himself on the side of the Palestinians.
In his address to the UN General Assembly last month, Abdullah pleaded for urgent aid for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to curb the appeal of radicalism, after the United States ended support for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).