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Israel arrests Jordanian MP accused of smuggling weapons to West Bank

Jordanian parliamentarian Imad al-Adwan was arrested by Israeli police at the Alenby Bridge crossing point on Saturday on suspicion of smuggling weapons and gold into the West Bank, Jordanian news outlets reported.
KHALIL MAZRAAWI/afp/AFP via Getty Images

Israel has arrested Jordanian parliamentarian Imad al-Adwan on suspicion of smuggling weapons and gold into the West Bank, the foreign ministry in Amman said Sunday.

The ministry shared the news in a statement, which read that it was working with other Jordanian agencies to resolve the matter as soon as possible. "The ministry, in coordination with all concerned authorities, is looking into the case of Representative Imad al-Adwan, who was detained by the Israeli authorities for interrogation over the alleged smuggling of quantities of weapons and gold," it read. 

Meanwhile, Israeli police have issued a gag order on the case, blocking some of the details from being published by Israeli news outlets. On Monday Ynet cited an unnamed Israeli security source as saying the incident was a "very disturbing event because it involves a large number of firearms smuggled by a diplomat.’’ The source reportedly added that Israel wishes to avoid any crisis with Amman. 

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen told Ynet on Monday that the affair was still being clarified. "There was intelligence on possible smuggling into Israel," he added. Cohen said he did not blame the Jordanian government but added that the incident was serious. 

Jordanian news outlet Ammon reported on Sunday that Adwan was arrested Saturday evening by Israeli authorities while trying to cross the Allenby Bridge from Jordan into the West Bank. The report said that Israeli security agents inspecting Adwan’s car found gold and guns hidden in it. The Times of Israel reported that a dozen AR-15-style assault rifles and around 200 handguns were found in Adwan’s possession. A video published by the newspaper and other Israeli outlets shows the guns and rifles spread on the ground while security agents inspect them.

Adwan, a lawyer specializing in international law, is of Bedouin origin and from the Jordanian city of Salt. He is a member of the Palestine Committee in Jordan's parliament and had made several statements supporting Hamas in the past. According to Israel’s public broadcaster KAN, on Monday afternoon Jordanian Ambassador to Israel Ghassan Majali is expected to visit Adwan, who is being questioned by the Shin Bet. 

The incident comes amid growing tensions between Israel and Jordan. On March 20, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry summoned the Israeli ambassador to Amman, Eitan Surkis, to protest a speech in Paris the day before by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich. During his Paris speech, Smotrich denied the existence of the Palestinian people, while standing behind a map of “Greater Israel” that included modern-day Jordan. Tensions have also increased against the backdrop of an Israeli police crackdown on worshipers at Al-Aqsa Mosque at the beginning of the Ramadan holy month.

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