Countries lease territories from each other for many reasons, some involving situations in which two of them are seeking rights to the same territory. A lease can be a temporary measure that creates time for an acute dispute to diminish in importance, or for conditions to become more favorable for a permanent solution. Another reason can be to resolve a more pressing problem, as was the case with Naharayim and Tzofar. The agreement to lease the two areas removed a last-minute stumbling block in the negotiation of the 1994 Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty, allowing it to be concluded successfully.The two leases were identical and put into separate annexes of the peace treaty. Each lease would last 25 years with a provision for automatic renewal as long as neither side objected. This foresaw the possibility that the leases could be terminated either together or separately, but also that one or both could become perpetual. Once they served their immediate purpose of unblocking the peace treaty, the leases were transformed into diplomatic tools that could be used by either Israel or Jordan four times per century. How this happened would depend on the evolution of bilateral relations.In this way, the leases became political safety valves for each side. As they were highly unpopular among Jordan’s population, Amman could terminate them as a relatively simple way to give some satisfaction to an increasingly restive public at no tangible cost to the state. In doing this, Jordan also highlighted their value as safety valves for the peace treaty itself. Because the leases were contained in annexes to the treaty that envisioned their own potential demise, they could be jettisoned without harming the treaty itself, which remains in force in all other respects without any time limit. It is not out of the question that ending the leases might have helped Jordan preserve the broader peace.At the same time, their termination represents a failure in terms of preparation, both by the Israeli government and by Israeli citizens who have used Naharayim and Tzofar. Jordan’s decision to end the leases was arguably predictable long before it was made last year. The trajectory of bilateral relations and the growth of Jordan’s internal political pressures have been transparent for some time. It appears that the Israelis directly affected by the termination of the arrangements were insufficiently aware of this being likely. The fact that Israeli farmers in Tzofar planted crops that would not be ready for harvesting until months after that lease’s foreseeable end date – the 25th anniversary of the peace treaty – attests to this. While Jordan took advantage of the oversized symbolic importance that the leases had at the national level, it does not appear that Israeli authorities took this importance into account to defuse the matter as a domestic issue.The end of a lease of a territory is often problematic for the countries involved, sometimes for many years afterward. Unlike with leases of buildings or apartments, countries that obtain rights to use the territory of others typically don’t have to restore them to their original condition when they return control. Indeed, it may be impractical or impossible to do so. China was not about to destroy the global financial metropolis that Hong Kong became while it was on lease to the United Kingdom. Similarly, filling in the Panama Canal when the United States stopped leasing it would have been economically and socially disastrous for Panama. Yet regaining legal control of leased territory is not the same as reabsorbing it, as China is currently finding by trying to accelerate elements of Hong Kong’s reintegration.If the country that uses the territory leaves behind something of value, such as a viable economic activity, its deterioration under the renewed control of the state that leased it out can create new domestic problems. One should not write off Naharayim or Tzofar too soon. Jordan will have to succeed in keeping these communities as flourishing as they have been for decades. Because of their symbolic value, the Jordanian public will be watching. If they should wither under the auspices of Jordan’s government, these sites may offer opportunities for renewed cooperation as the peace treaty’s continuation ensures that bilateral relations, too, will continue and evolve.The writer is a professor at the Centre d’Etudes Diplomatiques et Stratégiques in Paris and is the author of Territorial Leasing in Diplomacy and International Law (Brill/Nijhoff, 2015) and two other books on territorial leases.