Thursday, July 05, 2007

Prisoners back home

After years of deliberations, negotiations and pressure, Israel has released into Jordanian custody four prisoners who had been in their jails since before the signing of the peace treaty in 1994. They will continue to serve time in Jordanian jails.

Last summer, I mentioned this issue during the Lebanon war. Israel’s willingness to exchange prisoners with Hezbollah, but not to release Jordanian prisoners to the Jordanian government had the effect of creating a credibility gap, and sent a bad message. It is good that this deal was not conducted in relationship with any prisoner deal with Hamas or Hezbollah.

The deal will allow for the Jordanian government to release the prisoners after 18 months. Of course, this will look bad for the Jordanian government, who will be accused imprisoning its own citizens on behalf of Israel. What is worse is that they have been imprisoned for attacking Israeli soldiers before the peace treaty was signed. These men are viewed as heroes to many people. Accusations of the government being an Israeli tool are already being made. It is too bad that making political points are more important to our opposition than alleviation of the suffering of the prisoners and their families.

While this deal will have dubious political benefits for the Jordanian government, it is great humanitarian step for the prisoners and their families. During their many years in prison, only two visits were allowed for their families. They will now be able to visit them on a regular basis. The 18 months in jail will be a picnic compared to the 99 years they were supposed to serve out in Israeli jails. The foreign minister said that they will be treated as “special cases”, presumably receiving preferential treatment. Jamil Nimri mentions that they may be released earlier if a deal allowing the release of Palestinian prisoners with similar sentences is made.

It is interesting that the foreign ministry says that there are 11 prisoners left in Israeli jails. Earlier numbers has suggested that there were around 30. Hopefully, accommodations will be made to release the rest and to put this source of tension behind us.

I would like to agree with Ibrahim Gharaibeh and say “good job”.


At 6:04 AM, Blogger programmer craig said...

How can I find out how many American citizens are locked up in Jordanian prisons?

At 7:28 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Ask the state department.

At 8:54 AM, Blogger programmer craig said...

Consular Information Sheet: Jordan

It's the only thing they won't tell me! Why is that? They say Americans have been arrested for talking about Christianity, and they say Jordan frequently don't even notify teh US embassy before throwing Americans in prison, but they don't say how many Americans there are in Jordanian jails and prisons!?

Does that seem fair? How would you feel if the Jordanian government didn't even make public how many Jordanians are in Israeli jails? That would suck, right?

It seems to me that it is the US State Department's job to be perfectly clear about the risk Americans face going over seas, so that they can make informed decisions. It also seems like the US government should not be hiding the facts about Americans who have been arrested in unjust countries.

What do you think, Khalaf?

At 9:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Craig, there are no Americans in Jordanian prisons, unless a tourist has been arrested for dealing drugs recently. The State Department here is very good at jumping right on it if an American gets in trouble.

Americans who talk too much about Christianity don't get arrested, they get deported. Jordanians who talk too much about their faith have a harder deal. The son of a friend of mine has been told by the Mukhabarat not to even bother registering for Uni - they'll make sure he doesn't get a place.

Jordan is a good country for US citizens, it has been good to our family

At 2:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's an excellent gesture by Israel to the Jordanian People to release from Israeli jails the four Jordanian prisoners who were serving life sentences in Israeli prisons for crossing the Jordanian border into Israel and killing Israelis in Israel 1990.

It's thought that the four Jordanians will serve at least 18 more months in prison in Jordan..then Jordanian will be free and the Israeli victims will still be deceased,mourned by their families.

But Peace between Jordan and Israel means goodwill between the two,like this gesture by the Israeli Gvt and hopefully gestures also by Jordan.

Now the REAL question is whether Britain will release Jordanian Dr.Mohammed Asha,who has been identified as a suspect in the U.K. terror plot,to serve his possible sentence if convicted - in Jordan?

I doubt it.

At 6:55 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Craig: I doubt that there are any American in Jordanian jails, which is why the state department has so little to say about it. Jordan passed a law last year that said that US war criminals will be extradited to their country rather than face an international court.

At 1:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khalef,,,This is the worst law that Jordanian puppet Parliament ever passed
What should have been done is to pass a law to hand and extradite all war criminals to International Court of Justice....

At 6:46 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Alurdunialhurr: Here is what I wrote about it at the time.


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