Israel releases longest-serving Jordanian prisoner after two decades

Bus bomber Abdullah Abu Jaber completes full 20-year sentence

Israel on Tuesday released its longest-held Jordanian prisoner, who had spent two decades in Israeli detention facilities, Jordanian authorities said.

Abdullah Abu Jaber, from the Baqaa Palestinian refugee camp north of Jordan's capital Amman, was in Israel on a work visa when he planted a bomb on a civilian bus in Tel Aviv in December 2000.

The attack badly wounded a female Israeli passenger, who was a soldier.

“Jordanian citizen Abdullah Abu Jaber arrived today to the territories of the kingdom after Israeli authorities released him,” a foreign ministry spokesman told the official Jordanian news agency.

An Israeli court sentenced Abu Jaber in June 2001 to 20 years in prison. Abu Jaber, 47, was released after serving his full sentence.

He had admitted planting the bomb. An Israeli court convicted him for attempted murder, conspiracy to commit a crime, and sabotage.

The Jordanian foreign ministry said Israel also released two other Jordanian citizens on Tuesday.

Israel said the two men crossed illegally from Jordan into Israel last month and were carrying knives.

The release comes after a deterioration in ties between Jordan and Israel over what Jordan considers increased illegal Israeli action in occupied East Jerusalem, and the conflict between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip last month.

The two countries signed a peace treaty in 1994.

There are an estimated 20 Jordanians in Israeli jails.

The men were returned to Jordan with the kingdom in political turmoil. On Monday, King Abdullah ordered an end to the current parliamentary session, after a tribal deputy serving as a member of parliament was expelled for calling on his followers to defy the monarch’s authority.

Parliament convened a special session at the weekend in which it removed Osama Al Ajarmeh, a deputy from the region of Naour, south of Amman, where lawlessness is on the increase.

In his first public comments on the incident, the king said on Tuesday that “the duty of everyone is to work to preserve confidence in parliament and its image and reputation among Jordanians".

“There has been a conspiracy to weaken the state of Jordan and the Palestinian cause, but we managed to confront it,” the monarch told former officials in a discussion on political reform, the state agency reported.

Updated: June 9, 2021 12:18 PM

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