Israel arrested a Jordanian parliamentarian on suspicion of smuggling over 200 guns and gold into the West Bank, Jordan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Sunday.
According to Jordan’s Ammon news outlet, the arrest took place Saturday evening at the Allenby Bridge border crossing, as MP Imad al-Adwan was heading into Israel by car.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the episode.
Video viewed by The Times of Israel showed around a dozen AR-15-style assault rifles and around 200 handguns spread in rows on a floor as Israeli officials catalogued them.
However, Israeli authorities refused to comment on whether they were the weapons seized from Adwan’s car. Police issued a gag order on the case, barring many details from being published by Israeli media.
Former Jordanian MP Tarek Khoury accused Israel of fabricating the gold angle, in order “to turn the heroic act into a smuggling issue.” Israel’s Channel 12 news, without citing a source, said no gold was found in al-Adwan’s vehicle.
A surge of violence and terror attacks has wracked the West Bank in recent months, aided by a flood of illegal weapons, including many guns smuggled from Jordan.
The incident this weekend was sure to heighten the already elevated tensions between Amman and Jerusalem even further.
According to the Kan public broadcaster, Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, was refusing to answer calls from his Israeli counterpart, Eli Cohen, after news of the incident broke.
Earlier this month, an unnamed senior Israeli official told the Walla news site that Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi’s recent conduct and statements had exacerbated the crisis, adding that he “acted like Jordan’s [Itamar] Ben Gvir” — a reference to the far-right Israeli national security minister, whose conduct and policies have been widely viewed as contributing to growing friction with the US and other countries.
Footage shows the arms allegedly seized from a Jordanian parliament member at the Allenby Crossing pic.twitter.com/VZPY6IHhlM
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) April 23, 2023
Jordan has repeatedly lambasted Jerusalem, in more than 10 statements over an incident during Ramadan in which cops entered Al-Aqsa to confront Palestinian rioters and were filmed beating some of them. At one point, Jordan refused to receive messages from Israel through the US or the United Arab Emirates, saying it would only accept direct messages and only if Israel commits to not enter the mosque again.
The Israeli officials cited in the report said they had held positive meetings with Safadi ahead of Ramadan, when Israel-Palestinian tensions regularly flare over the Temple Mount, but that he adopted a hardline position as matters came to a head.
Prior to the recent tensions over the Temple Mount, a perennial thorn in Israeli-Jordanian ties, Amman summoned the Israeli envoy over far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s speech last month at a conference in Paris, during which he claimed the Palestinian people are an “invention,” while standing behind a map of “Greater Israel” that includes modern-day Jordan. Days earlier, Smotrich stirred international outrage with a call to “wipe out” a Palestinian town in the West Bank following the killing of two Israeli brothers in a terror attack.
In an interview released earlier in April, Jordan’s first ambassador to Israel called for Amman to change its approach to relations in light of the current hardline government in Jerusalem and said there was no longer a chance for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.