A Jordanian man formerly detained in Israel has accused the neighbouring country of using him and another prisoner as “bargaining chips” to prevent the loss of two Jordan Valley territories.
Abdul Rahman Miri, a Jordanian citizen of Palestinian descent, was held by the Israeli authorities for months without charge alongside fellow Jordanian Hiba al-Labadi.
Their detention was not the only issue causing a diplomatic scuffle between Israel and Jordan over the past months, however.
The kingdom announced last year it would not extend a lease to Israel on two pieces of land in the Jordan Valley, ending 25 years of de facto Israeli authority over the Al-Baqura and Al-Ghamar areas.
Despite Jordan announcing its intention a year in advance of the leases’ expiration, Israeli officials and civilians in the valley have reportedly continued to hold out hope that Israeli farmers will continue to be able to live and work on the land.
Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting held by the National Committee for Jordanian Detainees and Missing Persons Held in Israeli Prisons on Friday, Miri alleged that the Israeli authorities had attempted to use his and Labadi’s detention as a “bargaining chip” with which to secure the continued lease of Baqura and Ghamar.
According to Arabi21, Miri said the Jordanian consulate in Tel Aviv informed him that Israel was trying to “blackmail Jordan over Baqura and Ghamar”.
“I told the [Israeli] interrogator that we are steadfast and I hope to stay in prison until the demise of the Wadi Araba treaty,” he said.
The Wadi Araba peace deal, signed in 1994, restored diplomatic and economic relations between Jordan and Israel. As part of the agreement, the kingdom leased Israel the Jordan Valley farmlands.
The agreement is highly contentious in Jordan, of which a significant number of citizens are of Palestinian descent. Anti-normalisation activists in the kingdom have previously called for the cancellation of the Wadi Araba treaty.
Miri and Labadi returned to Jordan on Wednesday after months in detention, where they were allegedly tortured after being accused of links to Hezbollah and Hamas.
Their release came a week after Jordan recalled its ambassador to Israel over their detention.
The former head of Israeli security Avi Dichter has said that the pair’s release was after a deal was reached between the countries’ political leadership.
Jordan has said Israeli citizens will be banned from entering Baqura from Sunday onwards.
The kingdom has not yet stated whether Israeli farmers will be allowed to access lands in Ghamar.
Source: The new Arab.