Mossad agent from past Jordan op suggests solution to Amman embassy crisis

By
July 24, 2017 11:27

Israel will need to drop Temple Mount metal detectors to retrieve embassy guard from Amman, former spy from 1997 case of Hamas leader's poisoning in Jordan tells JPost.

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Israel Jordan

Temple Mount and Israeli embassy in Jordan. (photo credit:KHALIL MAZRAAWI / AFP,REUTERS)

Israel will need to “give up on metal detectors on the Temple Mount” in order to diffuse its crisis with Jordan, a former Mossad agent who helped solve a similar crisis 20 years ago told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

“If we learn from earlier crises with the Jordanians, as soon as they have Israeli assets – they are effectively holding the security guard [since he cannot leave the embassy] and he is the thing they want – they have the cards,” said Dr. Mishka Ben-David, a former Mossad agent in Amman. In September 1997, he delivered an antidote to Jordanian security officials to cure then-Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal of a poisoning administered by other Mossad agents in an assassination attempt following a major Hamas terrorist attack in Israel.

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“Israel needs to make concessions in a different area, but [ones] connected to relations with Jordan to get [the embassy guard] out safely,” he added, hours before the guard and the rest of the Israeli Embassy staff returned to Israel.
Scene of attack at Israel's embassy in Jordan (credit: REUTERS)

Ben-David, now an author of several spy novels, handed over the antidote when some of the other Mossad agents were caught by Jordan, and Amman threatened to put them on trial and even break into the Israeli Embassy, if other agents involved were not turned over.

Mishka Ben David

Israel and Ben-David eventually helped cure Mashaal and release imprisoned Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin as part of a deal to secure the release of Israeli agents and placate Jordan’s anger over the Mossad assassination attempt on its soil at a time of flowering open relations between the two.

According to Ben-David, gestures Israel could make now could relate to the current tensions surrounding the Temple Mount and Israel’s installation of metal detectors and cameras at the Jerusalem holy site following a deadly attack that killed two Border Police officers earlier this month.

In light of the new security measures, many in the Muslim world have accused Israel of attempting to change the status quo at the Temple Mount, which is administered by the Jordanian-instituted Wakf Muslim religious trust, though Israel controls and secures access to it.

“Since the issue of operating the Temple Mount became Jordan’s as part of the Jordan peace treaty, Israel can suggest a solution regarding the metal detectors that is acceptable to the Jordanians.”

If that approach is taken, “Israel would obtain quiet on the Temple Mount and also ease relations with Jordan, while getting its security guard out,” Ben-David explained.

Meanwhile, he said the Jordanians could claim Israel got rid of the metal detectors on Amman’s account, and the Hashemite Kingdom would be hailed by the Arab world for settling the matter.

Alternatively, the metal detectors possibly would need to be removed and then the agent released, with the timing being pre-agreed upon by Israel and Jordan.

“Perhaps Israel also needs to concede by doing its own investigation” of the embassy incident and providing the probe’s results to Jordan to satisfy them, he said.

Ben-David cautioned, however, that this situation might also take time to conclude, noting that the Mashaal affair took weeks to resolve.

Although the Mashaal affair could be seen as more serious because it was clearly an Israeli initiative, Ben-David said the current incident actually might be more severe because two Jordanians are dead, whereas Mashaal was saved by Ben-David’s antidote.

“I think the fact of diplomatic relations with Jordan and Egypt create a misconception that these are nations that are friends with Israel, when that is not the situation regarding the domestic population,” said Ben-David said.

Even if the Jordanian regime is moderate and wants relations with Israel, he stated, in moments of crisis it yields to pressure from the Jordan street, which is anti-Israel, such as the past sieges of the Egyptian and Jordanian embassies.

“The feelings of those in the siege are very grave. They understand the regime in Jordan does not want to go against the will of the nation, because the nation can also overthrow it,” Ben-David said, based on his firsthand experience with the Mashaal crisis.

That means, he said, the Israelis in the embassy are wondering whether they will be extradited or their security compromised “to satisfy the multitudes” of the Jordanian street.

Khaled Mashaal (Reuters)

Although the Mashaal affair could be seen as more serious because it was clearly an Israeli initiative, Ben-David said the current incident actually might be more severe because two Jordanians are dead, whereas Mashaal was saved by Ben-David’s antidote.

“I think the fact of diplomatic relations with Jordan and Egypt create a misconception that these are nations that are friends with Israel, when that is not the situation regarding the domestic population,” said Ben-David said.

Even if the Jordanian regime is moderate and wants relations with Israel, he stated, in moments of crisis it yields to pressure from the Jordan street, which is anti-Israel, such as the past sieges of the Egyptian and Jordanian embassies.

“The feelings of those in the siege are very grave. They understand the regime in Jordan does not want to go against the will of the nation, because the nation can also overthrow it,” Ben-David said, based on his firsthand experience with the Mashaal crisis.

That means, he said, the Israelis in the embassy are wondering whether they will be extradited or their security compromised “to satisfy the multitudes” of the Jordanian street.



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