Jordanian-Israeli tensions continue to rise
|Tamara Nassar 3 November 2019|
Tensions are growing between Israel and Jordan just days after the 25th anniversary of the Wadi Araba peace agreement between the two countries.
On Tuesday, Jordan recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv “for consultation” in protest at Israel’s months-long detention of two Jordanians without charge or trial.
“We hold [the] Israeli government responsible for the lives of our citizens whose health conditions have severely deteriorated in illegal arbitrary detention,” Jordanian foreign minister Ayman Safadi said, calling it a “first step.”
“We will take all necessary legal and diplomatic measures to ensure their safe return home.”
On Thursday, a day after Jordan’s ambassador to Israel, Ghassan Majali, arrived in Amman, the UN also called on Israel to release the prisoners.
“We are gravely concerned that [Jordanian prisoner Hiba Ahmad al-Labadi] was subjected to treatment during her interrogation that could amount to torture and ill-treatment,” UN officials said.
They also condemned Israel’s use of solitary confinement against al-Labadi.
Meanwhile, an Israeli citizen reportedly illegally entered northern Jordanian territory on Tuesday, and is being questioned by Jordanian security forces.
Al-Labadi was hospitalized multiple times in the past week as she enters her second month of hunger strike.
She was arrested on 20 August at the Allenby Bridge that separates the occupied West Bank from Jordan.
The 32-year-old was on her way to the city of Jenin to attend her cousin’s wedding. She also holds the West Bank green identity card.
Israeli prison authorities barred al-Labadi from meeting with her lawyer Raslan Mahajneh for more than three weeks of her detention, according to Jordanian publication 7iber.
Majahneh told 7iber that his client is being held on suspicion of “incitement to military action and contact with a foreign agent” but hasn’t been charged.
An Israeli military court issued al-Labadi a six-month administrative detention order shortly after she was detained, and she announced she would start a hunger strike on the same day.
Israel typically issues administrative detention orders for six-month periods, but can renew them indefinitely.
Under such orders, Israel can hold individuals without charge or trial and detainees are not allowed to see any evidence against them.
The practice is a direct continuation of detention practices under British colonial rule and may constitute a war crime, according to human rights organizations.
As of September, Israel was holding more than 400 Palestinians in administrative detention.
Two weeks into her strike, a lawyer with Addameer was able to visit her and confirmed that al-Labadi was undergoing long and harsh interrogations.
Jordan’s foreign ministry said the order was “invalid, unacceptable” and demanded her immediate release.
Another Jordanian was arrested at the Allenby Bridge on 2 September.
Abdulrahman Mirie, 28, was on his way to attend his cousin’s wedding in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus.
Israel’s Ofer military court refused an appeal for Mirie’s release, reaffirming his four-month sentence in administrative detention.
There are currently 21 Jordanian detainees in Israeli prisons, according to a local organization for Jordanian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Mirie and al-Labadi are seemingly the only Jordanians under administrative detention and dozens of Jordanian civil society organizations called for their release.
The detention of al-Labadi, Mirie and other Jordanians comes in the context of the 25th anniversary of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, which was not marked by any ceremony in a sign of bilateral tensions.
On 10 November, Israel is set to return control of the territories of al-Baqoura and al-Ghamr to Jordan, territory that had been leased to Israel under the treaty.
Last October, King Abdullah announced that Jordan would not renew the relevant annexes in its 1994 treaty.
Al-Baqoura, an area in northwest Jordan where the Yarmouk and Jordan rivers meet, and al-Ghamr, an area south of the Dead Sea, were leased to Israel for 25 years.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that negotiations are underway between the kingdom and Israeli officials regarding a possible extension of the lease to accommodate Israeli farmers.
Jordan’s foreign ministry has, however, repudiated those reports, stating that Jordan’s decision not to renew annexes is “final and irrevocable.”