Jordan's envoy warned Israel weeks ago crisis would erupt over arrests

Jordan's envoy was recalled for consultations after days of growing tensions between the two countries.

President Rivlin accepts a letter of credence from Jordanian ambassador Ghassan Majali (photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
President Rivlin accepts a letter of credence from Jordanian ambassador Ghassan Majali
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Jordan’s ambassador to Israel Ghassan Majali – who was recalled to Amman for consultation on Wednesday – warned Foreign Ministry officials from the day that two Jordanian citizens were placed in administrative detention some two months ago that the issue could lead to a diplomatic crisis.
His warning was passed on to the relevant authorities in Israel, who have made the decision to keep the two – Hiba Labadi and Abdul Rahman Miri – in administrative detention knowing full well that it could create tension in Jordan-Israeli ties, but weighing the country’s security interests against its diplomatic ones.
Jerusalem believes that Amman’s decision to recall the ambassador for consultations – something that has happened several times before, most recently in 2017 after a security guard at the embassy killed two Jordanians after coming under attack – is the result of a strong public campaign in Jordan on behalf of the two detainees,  both in the streets and on social media.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi announced the recall in a tweet.
“We hold Israeli government responsible for the lives of our citizens whose health conditions have severely deteriorated in illegal arbitrary detention. We will take all necessary legal and diplomatic measures to ensure their safe return home. Administrative detention is illegal.”
Safadi called this move a “first step.”
Foreign minister officials said that they have not received any message from Amman that the arrest of an Israeli who crossed the border on Tuesday was in any way linked to this case, or that the Jordanians were going to use him as a bargaining chip for the release of Labadi and Miri.
The chairman of the Jordanian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs committee, Nidal a-Taani, was quoted as saying that the detainee could be used as a bargaining chip. Jordan’s parliament is viewed in Jerusalem as extreme and hostile.
The arrested Israeli – an immigrant from the former Soviet Union – reportedly tried to cross the border because he was wanted by the police in Israel, something that happens from time to time and is usually dealt with within a few days.
The recall of the Jordanian ambassador is seen in Jerusalem as both an attempt to ramp up the pressure on Israel to release the two detainees, and to show the public that the Jordanian government is doing something on their behalf.
Labadi, who was hospitalized as a result of a hunger strike, was arrested after crossing into Israel at the Allenby Bridge on August 20 and reportedly is being held on suspicion of having met with Hezbollah officials during trips to Beirut. Miri was reportedly arrested because of affiliation with Hamas, and on Tuesday a military court rejected an appeal for his release. He was arrested on September 2.
Hadash MK Yousef Jabreen tweeted support for Labadi, and wrote in Hebrew that “The Israeli government is responsible for denying Hiba’s freedom, torture, and deteriorating health. Administrative arrests and torture are morally and legally invalid.”
The recall of the Jordanian ambassador comes just days after the 25th anniversary of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, and as relations between the two countries have become strained, indicative by Jordan’s decision to opt out of an annex in the 1994 peace accord that allowed Israel to lease agricultural land in two small enclaves across the border – at Naharayim at the confluence of the Jordan and Yarmuk rivers, and at Tzofar in the Arava.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.