Hundreds protest outside Israeli Embassy in Amman

Demonstrators in Jordanian capital call on gov't to scrap peace treaty with Israel; embassy personnel expected to return to Amman after weekend.

By REUTERS
September 15, 2011 22:30
2 minute read.
Protesters near Israeli Embassy in Amman

Jordan embassy protest 311. (photo credit: Reuters)

Several hundred Jordanian protesters on Thursday called on their government to close the Israeli embassy in Amman and scrap an unpopular peace treaty with the Jewish state.

Dozens of demonstrators chanting: "No Zionist embassy on Arab land" gathered near a mosque in the Rabia district of the Jordanian capital close to the Israeli embassy.

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Scores of police blocked roads to the embassy complex to prevent protesters from marching to the heavily protected mission.

The protesters, a mix of leftist, liberal and Islamist opposition activists, chanted slogans urging the authorities to sever diplomatic ties with neighboring Israel.

"The people want to bring down the Wadi Araba peace treaty," said a protester, referring to the country's peace accord with Israel signed in 1994, the second that was concluded by an Arab country with Israel after Egypt's own deal in 1979.

Earlier on Thursday, a Foreign Ministry official said Israel's diplomats will return to Amman at the end of the weekend as usual, after Israel's personnel there came home a day earlier than scheduled because of concern over a demonstration against the embassy that was planned on Facebook.

All diplomatic personnel at the embassy, with the exception of the number 2 official there, left Amman Wednesday.  Generally, because of overall security concerns and the short distance between the countries, the embassy staff – whose families are not with them during the week – return to Israel each Thursday for the weekend.

The decision Wednesday to order an early departure of embassy personnel was taken just days after the 13-hour rampage at the Israeli embassy in Cairo on Friday, during which Israeli six security guards locked themselves behind a steel door while mobs ransacked the embassy.

Egyptian commandos rescued those six security guards from the Cairo embassy, as protesters broke into archives and threw documents from the building's windows into the street below where demonstrators were celebrating.

The call for the protest in Amman comes amid increasing voices in Jordan calling for an end to the normalization of ties between the two countries.  Israeli officials have said recently that the Jordanian government has not done enough to quell those voices, and that this has led to a significant decrease in contact and trade between the two countries.


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