AMMAN – The Jordanian government on Monday said that it would bring home two of its citizens who have been held prisoner in Israel, including a woman who was hospitalized after a hunger strike she started 41 days ago.
Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said that they “will return home before this weekend.”
“Israel today pledged that Heba Labadi and Abdul Rahman Marei will be handed over to Jordan before the weekend,” Safadi said.
“An agreement to this effect was reached after prolonged and intensive discussions, contacts and moves as well as coordination with all concerned sides,” the minister added without providing further details.
Labadi, who is now in hospital on her 41st day of hunger strike, was detained by the Israeli authorities as she passed through the Allenby crossing point on River Jordan on 20 August to visit her family in the West Bank.
Marei was detained on 2 September at the same crossing point as he embarked on a similar journey to the West Bank.
Dozens of Jordanians took to Amman’s streets on Sunday calling for the prisoners to be released.
The Jordanian Foreign Ministry recalled ambassador Ghassan Majali from Tel Aviv last week to protest the continued detention of the two citizens.
Israel could be using the detention of the two citizens to pressure the kingdom into renewing the 25-year lease contract of the areas of Baqoura and al-Ghamr which is due to expire on 10 November, Jordanian media speculated.
A year ago, King Abdullah II notified Israel that the annexes to the 1994 peace treaty allowing Israel to use the two Jordanian territories will be terminated.
He considered the decision as a matter of “restoring sovereignty by Jordan on its land.”
Large sectors of the Jordanian population and political parties reject the normalization of relations with Israel and repeatedly call for the closure of embassies and the expulsion of the Israeli envoy.