Tel Aviv (AP) — Israel’s foreign minister on Monday called on Jordan to take action to bring to justice a Jordanian lawmaker who was arrested in Israel for allegedly trying to smuggle what appears to have been dozens of guns into the West Bank.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said Israel was still investigating the incident, in which the legislator, Imad Al-Adwan, is accused of attempting to bring in weapons and gold illegally. Cohen called it an “irresponsible, criminal act” that cannot go unpunished
“This is a very serious incident,” Cohen told Israeli news outlet YNet. “The basic demand is that he is brought to justice and that he pay a price.”
In a statement, the lawmaker’s brother, Amer Al-Adwan, said he was counting on Jordanian authorities to bring Imad home.
Jordan and its neighbor Israel have had tense relations over recent years, despite a nearly 30-year-old peace treaty, and the lawmaker’s arrest threatened to further strain the ties.
Al-Adwan was arrested on Saturday at a crossing between the occupied West Bank and Jordan that Israel controls. It is unclear where he is currently being held.
It was also not known if talks are underway between the two countries to address the incident.
Footage aired by Israeli media showed the alleged weapons smuggled arranged on a floor, with dozens of handguns and rifles displayed. Cohen said Israel had received intelligence of a smuggling attempt coming in from Jordan but was not expecting to find arms.
The West Bank has seen a surge in violence over the past year. Israel says the area has been flooded with illegal weapons, including guns smuggled from neighboring Jordan.
Since Israel’s hard-line government took office late last year, relations with Jordan have deteriorated over Israeli settlement construction, violence in the West Bank and policies over holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City. The ties were at a nadir in 2017, when a security guard at the Israeli embassy in Jordan shot and killed two Jordanians, alleging one attacked him with a screw driver. The Israeli guard and Israel’s then-ambassador were given a hero’s welcome by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, infuriating Jordan.
Jordan controlled the West Bank and east Jerusalem before Israel captured the areas in the 1967 Mideast war, but the kingdom retains custodianship of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and other Muslim holy sites in the Old City.