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Longest serving Jordanian prisoner in Israel arrives home: officials

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AMMAN – The longest serving Jordanian prisoner in an Israeli jail arrived home on Tuesday, Jordanian officials said, after completing a 20-year sentence for planting a bomb on an Israeli bus that injured more than a dozen people.

Abdullah Abu Jaber, 44, was arrested after the explosive device went off on the bus in Tel Aviv in December 2000. He was one of thousands of Jordanians who found casual work in Israel after the two countries normalised ties with a peace treaty in 1994.

Abu Jaber, who was among 22 political prisoners held in Israeli jails, headed to his parents’ home in the teeming Baqaa Palestinian refugee camp near the Jordanian capital Amman, witnesses said.

Separately, foreign ministry officials said Israel had dropped charges against two Jordanians who were arrested last month for allegedly crossing the border carrying knives. The authorities had put them on trial shortly after their detention.

Jordan, which has the longest border with Israel, is a close Western ally. Last month it saw large protests against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza and its crackdown on Palestinian worshippers and protesters in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque.

Political ties between the two countries have been strained over Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, and the Jordanian government has faced growing public pressure to scrap the unpopular peace treaty.

Most of Jordan’s 10 million citizens are of Palestinian origin. They or their parents were expelled or fled to Jordan in the fighting that accompanied the creation of Israel in 1948.

They have close family ties with their kin on the other side of the Jordan River in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, both captured by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

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