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Jordanian lawmaker charged for trying to smuggle over 200 guns into West Bank

Imad al-Adwan, 35, faces up to 15 years in prison following arrest by Israel last month at Allenby crossing with firearms, gold

This combination picture shows Jordanian MP Imad al-Adwan, arrested at the Allenby Bridge border crossing, and handguns allegedly seized from him on April 23, 2023 (Jordanian media; courtesy)
This combination picture shows Jordanian MP Imad al-Adwan, arrested at the Allenby Bridge border crossing, and handguns allegedly seized from him on April 23, 2023 (Jordanian media; courtesy)

A Jordanian lawmaker was charged in the kingdom on Tuesday over an attempt last month to smuggle weapons through an Israeli-controlled border crossing into the West Bank, his lawyer said.

Imad al-Adwan, 35, faces a prison sentence of up to 15 years if convicted.

He was arrested at the Israel-administered Allenby border crossing (also called the King Hussein crossing) between Jordan and the West Bank on April 22 when Israeli security forces allegedly found 12 rifles and 194 pistols in his car, Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency said at the time.

Israel transferred him to Jordanian authorities last week.

“Imad al-Adwan appeared today before the state security court and was questioned by the prosecutor following the confiscation of firearms and gold in his possession by the Israeli authorities,” his lawyer, Ali al-Mubaeedin, told AFP.

The lawmaker is charged with exporting weapons with the intention of illegal use, and committing acts likely to disrupt public order and threaten security of the country, the lawyer added.

Handguns allegedly seized by Israel at the Allenby Crossing after a Jordanian MP tried to smuggle them into Israel, April 23, 2023. (courtesy)

Jordan’s official Petra news agency reported earlier that “other defendants admitted to trading and smuggling weapons, gold and e-cigarettes in association” with Adwan.

Ahmad Safadi, speaker of the Jordanian parliament’s lower house, told local media that after Adwan’s release by Israel, the legislature had voted to strip him of immunity from prosecution, following a court request.

Adwan is a lawyer and member of the Jordanian parliament’s Palestine committee.

Jordanian MP Imad al-Adwan speaks at the Jordanian Parliament in Amman, February 2022. (Screenshot: YouTube; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Since February 2022, Adwan used his diplomatic passport 12 times to smuggle various goods, including “birds, pigeons, electronic cigarettes and gold”, according to the Shin Bet.

From the beginning of this year, he began smuggling weapons across the border “out of greed, and received large sums of money”, it added.

Adwan’s arrest by Israel tested already tense ties between Amman and Jerusalem, though Israel was quick to clarify that it did not hold the kingdom responsible for the smuggling attempt.

Jordan in 1994 became the second Arab country to recognise and sign a peace treaty with Israel, after Egypt.

In recent months, a surge of violence and terror attacks has wracked the West Bank, aided by a flood of illegal weapons, including many guns smuggled from Jordan.

In addition, Jordan has repeatedly lambasted Jerusalem over an incident during Ramadan last month in which cops entered the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount 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.

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.

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