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Jordan recalls ambassador to Israel over 'illegal detention' of two citizens

Jordan's foreign minister says Israel has refused to release two Jordanian citizens held in 'arbitrary detention'
Jordanian citizens Hiba al-Labadi (R) and Abdulrahman Meri are held in administrative detention in Israel (Screengrab)

Jordan has recalled its ambassador to Israel over the continued detention of two of its citizens, the country's foreign minister said, accusing the Israeli government of refusing to answer the Hashemite kingdom's "legitimate demands".

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Ayman Safadi said Jordan had demanded the release of Hiba al-Labadi, 24, and Abdelrahman Meri, 29, "who have been illegally detained without charges for months" in Israel.

"In light of Israeli government refusal to heed our legitimate demands ... we decided to recall our ambassdor in tell [sic] Aviv for consultation as a first step," Safadi said.

"We hold [the] Israeli government responsible for the lives of our citizens whose health conditions have severely deteriorated in illegal arbitrary detention," he added.

Labadi and Meri were arrested in August and September, respectively, and they are both currently being held under administrative detention.

A highly contentious policy, administration detention allows the Israeli authorities to detain people for indefinite periods of time, without charge or trial, on the basis of secret evidence.

It has been condemned by human rights groups as a practice that "leaves the detainees helpless - facing unknown allegations with no way to disprove them, not knowing when they will be released, and without being charged, tried or convicted".

Labadi's father, Ahmed, told MEE earlier this month that his daughter was arrested on 20 August on her way back from a relative's wedding in the occupied West Bank town of Yabad, near the city of Jenin.

She has since refused medical treatment after launching a hunger strike in protest of her ongoing imprisonment.

Jordanian woman on hunger strike in Israeli prison is refusing medical treatment
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On 7 October, Addameer, a Palestinian prisoners support network, said in a statement that Labadi was being held in an isolation cell at Jalameh prison in northern Israel.

The group described her cell as "filthy", and said it lacked a window and was kept cold.

"There is nothing in the isolation cell except for one dirty sheet," Addameer said.

For his part, Meri was arrested as he attempted to cross the Allenby Bridge from the Israeli-occupied West Bank to Jordan with his mother on 2 September, his brother Othman told MEE.

He was later issued a four-month administration detention order, Othman said. "We don't know what his charge is and what his health situation is," Othman said.

Jordan and Israel have held diplomatic ties for over two decades, after the neighbouring countries signed a peace treaty in 1994.

The Jordanian king is also the custodian of the Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.

In September, the Jordanian government summoned the Israeli ambassador to the country, Amir Weissbrod, to demand the release of Labadi and Meri.

At the time, a foreign ministry spokesman said Jordan had requested information about why the pair were detained, pledging to pursue all "diplomatic, political and legal" means to free them.

On Tuesday, Safadi, the foreign minister, also said Jordan was prepared to "take all necessary legal & diplomatic measures to ensure their safe return home".

Safadi did not elaborate on what those steps would be, however.

"Administrative detention is illegal," he tweeted.