Longest-serving Jordanian Prisoner in Israel Regains Freedom, Gets Rousing Welcome


The longest-serving Jordanian prisoner in an Israeli jail has arrived home after completing a 20-year sentence for planting a bomb on an Israeli bus.

Abdullah Abu Jaber, 44, was arrested after the explosive device went off on the bus in Tel Aviv and injured more than a dozen people in December 2000.

He was one of the thousands of Jordanians who found casual work in Israel after the two countries normalised ties with a peace treaty in 1994.

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Abu Jaber, who was among 22 prisoners held in Israeli jails, headed to his parents’ home in the teeming Baqaa Palestinian refugee camp near the Jordanian capital Amman, witnesses said.

Separately, foreign ministry officials said Israel had dropped charges against two Jordanians who were arrested last month for allegedly crossing the border carrying knives.

The authorities had put them on trial shortly after their arrest.

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Jordan, which has the longest border with Israel, is a close Western ally.

Last month, it witnessed large protests against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza and its crackdown on Palestinian worshippers and protesters in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Political ties between the two countries have been strained over Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, and the Jordanian government has faced growing public pressure to scrap the unpopular peace treaty.

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Most of Jordan’s 10 million citizens are of Palestinian origin. They, or their parents, were expelled or fled to Jordan in the 1948 war to establish the state of Israel.

They have close family ties with their kins on the other side of the Jordan River in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, both captured by Israel in the 1967 war.

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