Israel to appoint new envoy to Jordan in bid to heal ties

Jordan demands that Israel launch criminal proceedings against security guard at the embassy who killed two Jordanians in what he called self-defense.

November 29, 2017 15:16
2 minute read.

Scene of attack at Israel's embassy in Jordan (credit: REUTERS)

Scene of attack at Israel's embassy in Jordan (credit: REUTERS)


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Israel and Jordan are working on a solution to restore relations badly strained by July’s shooting incident in the Israel Embassy compound in Amman, Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said Wednesday.

Nahshon’s comments came in response to a Reuters report that Jerusalem plans to name a new ambassador to calm Amman’s anger over current envoy Einat Schlein’s handling of the incident, in which an Israeli guard opened fire after being attacked by an assailant with a screwdriver, killing him and a bystander at the scene.

Following the incident, the embassy’s entire staff – including the guard and Schlein – were returned to Israel. Jordan has said that the embassy will not be reopened until the guard is brought to trial.

Jordan has demanded that criminal procedures be launched against the guard, but earlier this month Channel 2 reported that the Shin Bet finished its investigation into the matter and found that the guard acted in self-defense and was justified in shooting the attacker, Mohammed Jawawdeh.

Jordanian authorities claim the shooting was unprovoked, but could not investigate the guard due to his diplomatic immunity. Jordan was infuriated by a televised welcome the guard and Schlein received from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when they returned to Israel after a tense day of negotiations with the Jordanian authorities.

The embassy has been closed since Schlein’s departure.

Reuters quoted an Israeli diplomatic source as saying that Schlein would not return.

“The Jordanians don’t want her back, and this has been a big obstacle in patching things up,” the source said. “We’re looking for a replacement.”

Meanwhile, Jordan’s King Abdullah II is attending meetings around Washington this week, hoping to secure a renewed, robust memorandum of understanding for US economic support to his country in the coming years. But second on his agenda is “intensifying” American efforts to reboot peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

Meeting with senior White House officials on Monday, Abdullah “affirmed the importance of the US administration’s commitment to this issue, calling for intensifying efforts to relaunch serious and effective negotiations based on the two-state solution, the Arab Peace Initiative, and international terms of reference,” Amman’s embassy in Washington said in a statement.

In a press release issued days later, after the king met with members of Congress and the secretary of state, Jordan’s embassy further underscored the need for a final settlement to the conflict “arriving at the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, with east Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with Israel.”

Abdullah once again claimed that a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians would stabilize the wider region.

Abdullah held several West Wing meetings with Vice President Mike Pence, National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster and Senior Adviser to the President Jared Kushner, who is leading the administration’s effort to jump-start Mideast peace talks. He also met with Secretary of Defense James Mattis and leadership of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

In a readout of the king’s Wednesday meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Amman said that they discussed ways to restart the Middle East peace process. Tillerson is deeply engaged in this portfolio, which is primarily handled by Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations.

“Discussions at these meetings tackled the strategic partnership between Jordan and the United States at various levels, efforts to push the Palestinian- Israeli peace process forward, and current developments in the region,” the embassy described.

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