Jordanian authorities arrested the Israeli national who was swimming in the Jordan River on Tuesday and allegedly reached the Jordanian border after the current carried him to the river’s eastern part. He was taken by Jordanian security forces for further questioning, while the Foreign Ministry said the incident was under investigation.
"From a political standpoint, we cannot talk about prisoner exchange with the occupation, but we can use the Israeli as a bargaining chip for two Jordanian prisoners in Israel,” Nidal a-Taani, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Jordanian Parliament, was quoted as saying.
The two Jordanian detainees in question are Hiba Labadi and Abdul Rahman Miri, who the kingdom claims are held illegally and without charges.
On Tuesday, Jordan recalled its ambassador to Israel for consultations in protest over Israel’s refusal to heed its demands to release the two citizens. Ayman Safadi said in a tweet he held the Israeli government responsible for the lives of Labadi and Rahman Miri whose “health conditions have severely deteriorated.” He added that recalling the envoy was a first step but did not elaborate.
In addition, Wednesday's report in the London-based Al-Quds-Al-Arabi newspaper claimed that another Jordanian parliamentarian, Khalil Attia, urged the government not to free the Israeli detainee until all Jordanian nationals held in Israeli prisons are released.
“The release of all Jordanians is now on the agenda,” he said. “There are at least 22 Jordanian citizens in Israeli prisons.”
Jordan’s relations with Israel have been strained in recent years and the kingdom, which is one of only two Arab states that have a peace treaty with its neighbor, fears Israel’s annexation of territory in the West Bank dashes hopes of a future Palestinian state.
The peace treaty with Israel is unpopular among the people of Jordan, where pro-Palestinian sentiment is widespread. Many of Jordan’s 7 million citizens are of Palestinian origin.
Reuters contributed to this report