Jordan to Return Ambassador to Israel as Prisoners Released

YERUSHALAYIM -
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi. (Reuters/Muhammad Hamed/File)

Jordan will return its ambassador to Israel in the coming days, after Israel on Wednesday released two Jordanian citizens who were accused of working with terrorist groups. In a statement, the prime minister’s office said that the ambassador would “return in the coming days, after an agreement was reached to transfer two security prisoners who had been held by Israel to Jordan. The head of the Shin Bet reached an agreement with his Jordanian counterpart on the transfer. Israel sees its relations with Jordan as a bedrock in the stability of the region.”

Jordan last week night recalled its ambassador to Israel for consultations in protest over the two Jordanians arrested by Israel in August. The two are accused of security violations and helping terror groups. The two had been in and out of Israel at least half a dozen times in recent years, Israeli security officials said, and were suspected of working with Hezbollah against Israeli security interests. The two denied involvement, and in recent days went on a hunger strike demanding their release.

It’s not clear if the deal will entail the release of an Israeli who was arrested Tuesday by Jordanian authorities. The Israeli turned out to be a recent immigrant from the former Soviet Union who is wanted by police on criminal charges. In order to abscond from police, he apparently waded his way across the Jordan River, and was arrested when he got to the Jordanian side. Speaking in an interview with local media last week, Jordanian 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.”