Jordanian Lawmaker: Hold Captured Israeli Hostage to Release Jordanians in Israel

The sun sets over Amman, Jordan’s capital. (Lucie March/Flash90)

An Israeli who was arrested Tuesday by Jordanian authorities could find himself in custody for a long time, if Jordanian lawmakers have their way. Speaking in an interview with Jordanian media Wednesday, parliamentarian Nidal a-Ta’ani, who is the Jordanian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee chairperson, said that the Israeli “should be kept as a negotiating card to release Jordanians held in Israel. He should not be released until all Jordanians in Israel are released. There are at least 22 Jordanian prisoners in Israel.”

Jordan on Tuesday night recalled its ambassador to Israel for consultations in protest over two Jordanians arrested by Israel in August. The two are accused of security violations and helping terror groups, including Hezbollah.

The Israeli in Jordanian custody was arrested Tuesday after he entered the Jordan River and apparently waded in the water too far to the east, into Jordanian territory. He was arrested by Jordanian soldiers and taken in for questioning. In the past, Jordan would simply return individuals to Israel in these circumstances, but the arrest of the two Jordanians in August has apparently changed that.

In a statement, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry said that “the lack of communication by Israel over this issue and the continued imprisonment of Jordanian citizens is illegal and immoral. We have recalled the Jordanian ambassador in Tel Aviv home to Jordan for consultations as a first step. We see Israel as responsible for the lives of these citizens, whose health is poor and is getting worse because of this illegal imprisonment. We will take all legal steps necessary, including diplomatic steps, in order to bring them home safely.”

On Wednesday, one of the two Jordanians was taken to a Tel Aviv hospital for treatment after complaining of pains. The Israeli Foreign Ministry has yet to comment on the situation. On Wednesday, Kan News reported that the Israeli who had been arrested by Jordan did not veer into Jordanian territory by accident, but intentionally. The report said that he was an immigrant from former Soviet-bloc countries, and was wanted for questioning on a criminal matter by police. The detainee was attempting to leave Israel and escape from police via Jordan, the report said.

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