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Jordan Says 2 Citizens Held in Israel to Be Released before Week’s End

Jordan Says 2 Citizens Held in Israel to Be Released before Week’s End

Monday, 4 November, 2019 - 17:45
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi. (Reuters)

Israel will soon release two Jordanians whose months-long detention without charge, after crossing into the occupied West Bank, had led Jordan to recall its ambassador, the two countries said on Monday.

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the two citizens, Hiba Labadi and Abdul Rahman Miri, would return to Jordan “before the end of the week”.

Jordan said they been illegally arrested without charge a few months ago. Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, said last week the two were suspected of security offences, without being more specific.

Safadi said on Twitter the Jordanian government “pursued the case from the start under direct instructions from His Majesty King Abdullah to take all necessary steps to release them whatever that may cost”, but gave no further details.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the handover was agreed after talks between Israeli and Jordanian security chiefs. It said Jordan’s ambassador, who was recalled on Tuesday, would return to his post “in the coming days”.

Labadi, 24, was arrested in August after crossing to the West Bank to attend a family wedding. She subsequently went on a hunger strike and was hospitalized after her health deteriorated.

Miri, 29, was arrested last September after he also crossed into the West Bank to visit relatives. He has been battling cancer since 2010 and he requires frequent medical checkups.

Safadi said last month he held the Israeli government responsible for the lives of the two, adding that their health had severely deteriorated and warned the kingdom could escalate its actions if they were not released.

Israel mainly uses “administrative detention”, or imprisonment without trial, against Palestinians suspected of anti-Israeli activities.

It says the measure, which human rights groups have condemned, is aimed at preventing further violence in cases where there is insufficient evidence to prosecute or where court proceedings could expose the identity of secret informants.

Despite close security cooperation, relations between Israel and Jordan have been strained. That's due to the prolonged deadlock in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process as well as Israeli policies in east Jerusalem, where Jordan has custodial rights over Muslim holy sites.

Last year, Jordan chose not to renew a clause of the peace treaty that granted Israel use of two enclaves inside Jordanian territory.

Efforts by Israel to negotiate an extension of the lease from Jordan have so far not succeeded, and Jordan is to regain full control of the areas next week.

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