Israel hands over Jordanian lawmaker accused of arms smuggling

Al-Jazeera  /  May 7, 2023

Imad al-Adwan was held at an Israeli-controlled border crossing for allegedly smuggling more than 200 guns in his car.

Israeli authorities have released Jordanian Member of Parliament Imad al-Adwan, Jordan’s foreign ministry said, after he was held on suspicion of smuggling weapons and gold into the occupied West Bank nearly two weeks ago.

“The process of handing over MP Imad al-Adwan by the Israeli authorities to the concerned Jordanian security authorities has begun on the King Hussein Bridge,” read a statement from the ministry, referring to the main border crossing connecting the Palestinian territory to Jordan.

A foreign ministry spokesperson later confirmed to Al-Jazeera that the lawmaker has been released.

Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency said in a statement that al-Adwan was arrested on April 22 while carrying 12 rifles and 194 pistols in his car at an Israeli-controlled border crossing.

It added that its investigation revealed that Al-Adwan carried out 12 separate smuggling attempts since early 2022 using his diplomatic passport to bring in contraband that ranged from electronic cigarettes to gold to birds.

Since the start of the year, he made numerous arms-smuggling trips in exchange for unspecified amounts of money, the Shin Bet said.

The agency said he was released for “further investigation and pursuit of justice” by Jordanian authorities.

The Jordanian speaker of parliament said al-Adwan’s parliamentary immunity had been revoked, meaning he could face prosecution. A Jordanian security source told Reuters news agency the case will be brought to trial.

Al-Adwan’s arrest threatened to further strain ties between Israel and Jordan, which were already tense despite a peace treaty that is nearly 30 years old.

Israel has close security ties with Jordan, with which it shares its longest border, but relations soured in recent years over Israel’s construction of illegal settlements in occupied land, its violent raids on Palestinians in the West Bank and its discriminatory policies in holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Jordan controlled the West Bank and East Jerusalem before Israel captured the areas in the 1967 war, but the kingdom retains custodianship of Al-Aqsa Mosque and other Muslim holy sites in the Old City.

Since Israel’s hardline government took office late last year, relations with Jordan have deteriorated. Israel claims the West Bank is awash with weapons, including guns smuggled from Jordan.



Israel releases Jordanian MP arrested on suspicion of arms smuggling

Middle East Eye  /  May 7, 2023

Imad al-Adwan could face prosecution at home after his parliamentary immunity was revoked.

Israel released a Jordanian lawmaker on Sunday after he was held for two weeks on suspicion of smuggling arms and gold to the occupied West Bank. 

The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, said Imad al-Adwan was handed over to Jordanian authorities for “further investigation and prosecution”.

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, he was released after diplomatic pressure from Amman. 

Sinan al-Majali, a spokesperson for the Jordanian foreign ministry, confirmed that the process of “handing over MP Imad al-Adwan by the Israeli authorities” was underway on Sunday. 

Adwan could face prosecution at home after his parliamentary immunity was revoked. 

Shin Bet said investigations showed he used his diplomatic passport to smuggle various types of goods into the West Bank 12 times before, starting in February 2022, including guns, gold, birds and electronic cigarettes.

He was arrested on 22 April while trying to cross the Allenby Bridge from Jordan into the occupied West Bank. He allegedly was carrying 12 rifles and 194 handguns. 

A lawyer for Adwan in Israel confirmed he was no longer in custody in Israel but said he could not comment on the charges, according to Reuters.

One of Jordan’s youngest MPs, Adwan is known for his strong positions defending the Palestinian cause. He has previously criticized the Jordanian government for not being forceful enough against Israeli violations at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and the bombing of Gaza.

In May 2021, he co-sponsored a letter alongside MP Khalil Attiyeh demanding the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador to Amman in response to the “attacks against Al-Aqsa Mosque” at that time.

In the parliament session that accompanied the declaration, he asked why Jordan’s own ambassador remained in Israel while troops were attacking worshippers in the mosque. He also suggested tabling a no-confidence vote in the government.

Elected in 2020 in the Balqa governorate northeast of Amman, he belongs to no political party and comes from one of Jordan’s largest tribes, the Adwan.