Tel Aviv Bus Bomber Released to Jordan

AMMAN, Jordan (Reuters) -

The longest serving Jordanian prisoner in an Israeli jail arrived home on Tuesday, Jordanian officials said, after the terrorist completed a 20-year sentence for planting a bomb on an Israeli bus that wounded more than a dozen people.

Abdullah Abu Jaber, 44, was arrested after the explosive device went off on the bus in Tel Aviv in December 2000. He was one of thousands of Jordanians who found casual work in Israel after the two countries normalized ties with a peace treaty in 1994.

Abu Jaber, who was among 22 Jordanians held in Israeli jails, headed to his parents’ home in the teeming Baqaa Palestinian refugee camp near the Jordanian capital Amman, witnesses said.

Separately, foreign ministry officials said Israel had dropped charges against two Jordanians who were arrested last month for allegedly crossing the border carrying knives. The authorities had put them on trial shortly after their detention.

Jordan, which has the longest border with Israel, is a close Western ally. Last month it saw large protests against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza and its crackdown on Palestinian rioters at Yerushalayim’s Al-Aqsa mosque.

Political ties between the two countries have been strained, and the Jordanian government has faced growing public pressure to scrap the unpopular peace treaty.