Meretz MK: Netanyahu should apologize for death of Jordanian bystander

Meretz's Esawi Frej also took issue with Netanyahu's warmly welcoming the guard home and his office's praising his handling of the incident.

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July 27, 2017 01:15
4 minute read.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hugs the security guard from the Israeli embassy in Amman

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hugs the security guard from the Israeli embassy in Amman Jordan who was stabbed by a terrorist. (photo credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)

 MK Esawi Frej (Meretz) called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday to apologize to Jordan over the killing of an apparent bystander by a security guard during the incident on Sunday at the Israeli Embassy in Amman.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the security officer was stabbed and slightly wounded by a screwdriver-wielding worker who had entered the embassy compound for furniture replacement. The worker, Mohammed Jawawdah, 17, was shot dead by the guard, who was acting in self-defense, according to the ministry.

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The guard also fatally shot Bashar al-Hamarneh, a physician, who according to Jordan’s Petra news agency “happened to be there when the incident occurred as he is the owner of the building.”

Frej, in remarks to The Jerusalem Post, also took issue with Netanyahu’s warmly welcoming the guard home and his office posting a video of him greeting the guard in his office and praising his handling of the incident.

“Everyone agrees there is an innocent person who was killed, a doctor,” he said. “Instead of apologizing Netanyahu embraces the guard who killed him and publicizes it on video.

It’s sticking a finger in the eye of the Jordanians.”

“What about showing some empathy? What Netanyahu is doing is just raising the tension further,” Frej said.

“We still don’t know whether what happened there was an attack or a dispute,” he added. “Why make a hero of the guard? It’s irresponsible.”

Frej accused Netanyahu of currying to his right-wing support base at the expense of relations with Jordan and the Arab world.

David Baker, a spokesman for the prime minister, did not respond by press time to a request for comment on Frej’s criticisms.

The video fueled further anger against Israel in Jordan, where public opinion is already inflamed over the tensions surrounding the Temple Mount compound. Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, in an interview with CNN, said it was “really absurd” that the guard, identified only as Ziv, and Ambassador Einat Shlain, were being treated as returning heroes.

“This is a criminal case. Jordan acted legally and morally and Israel has a duty to act similarly and cease its provocative behavior and distorting facts,” he said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon declined to respond.

Jordan initially refused to let the guard return to Israel, saying it wanted him for criminal investigation.

Israel insisted he be let go on the grounds that the Vienna Convention granted him diplomatic immunity.

A tense standoff ensued that was resolved by the dispatch of Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman to Amman, the intervention of the United States and a phone call between Netanyahu and King Abdullah.

Jordan relented and freed the guard, a decision that has exposed the government to sharp criticism at home. Hours after Ziv returned to Israel, the security cabinet decided to remove controversial metal detectors installed at the entrances to al-Aksa mosque, but Netanyahu denied the move was linked to Ziv’s release.

In the video, Netanyahu tells Ziv: “I am happy to see you here and that things ended the way they did. You acted well, calmly and we also had an obligation to get you out. This was not even a question. It was only a question of time and I am pleased that it was short. You represent the State of Israel and the State of Israel does not forget that even for a moment.”

Ziv tells Netanyahu that “a weight has been lifted from my heart. Thank you from my heart. I am happy to be here. Einat and I felt that people were standing behind us and were making every effort.”

Shlain says: “It is great to be home.

Everything is fine.”

The Jordanian government faced sharp criticism for Ziv’s release. Marwan Muasher, a former foreign minister wrote in a Facebook post that was picked up by two leading Jordanian websites: “I can’t find a convincing justification for the return of the Israeli security person or for the official account. Shouldn’t there be a minimum of respect for the Jordanian citizen and the state’s authority? Does diplomatic immunity cover a diplomat who kills a citizen in the country where he works? What we have come to is regrettable and disgraceful.”

The main political opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood, blasted the authorities and said handing over the guard was an affront to national sovereignty. In a statement quoted by Reuters, the brotherhood said: “The Jordanian people were shocked by the death of two Jordanians in cold blood and instead of the government doing its duty toward its citizens, we were appalled by its protection of the killer and returning him without punishment.”

On Tuesday, thousands of Jordanians turned out for the funeral of Jawawdah who was laid to rest amid chanting against the presence of the Israeli Embassy on Jordanian soil and calls to scrap the peace treaty.

Responding to the public anger over Ziv’s release, Safadi said the Israeli had been protected by diplomatic immunity but he vowed to “get justice” for the victims of a “criminal attack,” Reuters reported from Amman.


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