Jordan Holds Firm On Refusal To Reopen Israeli Embassy

Amman says that Israel’s ambassador will not be allowed to return until an embassy security guard involved in the killing of two Jordanians is put on trial.

November 21, 2017 12:41
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets Israel's Ambassador to Jordan Einat Schlein and wounded secu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets Israel's Ambassador to Jordan Einat Schlein and wounded security officer Ziv, July 25 2017.. (photo credit: GOVERNMENT PRESS OFFICE)


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Jordan will not allow the reopening of the Israeli embassy in Amman or the return of Israel’s ambassador unless the Israeli security guard involved in the killing of two Jordanians in July is brought to trial, a Jordanian government minister said Thursday.

Jordanian Media Affairs Minister Mohammed Momani issued a press release to this effect, in which he added that Jordan’s position on the issue was very firm.

Saleh al-Armouti, a Jordanian member of Parliament, told The Media Line that Israeli ambassador Einat Schlein is unwelcome in Amman because she “accompanied the murderer,” security guard Ziv Moyal, back to Israel. The appropriate response to the entire incident, according to al-Armouti, would be for Jordan to “close the embassy and cut ties with Israel for good.

“The security guard doesn’t have diplomatic immunity,” said al-Armouti, “but [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu wants to challenge Jordan.”

Al-Armouti stressed that to reopen the embassy without Moyal having been put on trial would constitute a blot on Jordan’s history.

On July 23 Moyal was reportedly attacked with a screwdriver by teenager Mohammed Jawawdeh, who had been delivering furniture to Moyal’s landlord. Moyal then opened fire, killing Jawawdeh along with the building’s owner.

The incident prompted widespread condemnation from Jordanian citizens, who held mass demonstrations including outside the Israeli embassy, where protesters chanted “Death to Israel.” At Jawawdah’s funeral, thousands gathered to urge Jordan’s King Abdullah to cancel the 1994 peace treaty between the countries.

Moyal and Israeli embassy staff were allowed to return to Israel a day after the incident following diplomatic pressure from the Israeli government and the US. A subsequent investigation by Israel’s Shin Bet concluded that Moyal acted in self-defense and thus there were no grounds to prosecute him.

The diplomatic crisis sparked by the incident intensified when Abdullah accused Netanyahu of giving Moyal a hero’s welcome upon his return to Israel—a move by the Jordanian monarch as “unacceptable and provocative.” Jordan also strongly denounced Schlein’s presence at the event.

For its part, Israel has reportedly told Jordan that the Red Sea-Dead Sea project, a joint plan to pipe seawater from Aqaba to the Dead Sea, will be placed on hold until Schlein and her staff are permitted to return to the kingdom.

When reached by The Media Line, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon refused to comment on the issue.

Yahya Al-Saud, head of the Jordanian Parliament’s Palestine Committee and responsible for the Jerusalem file, confirmed to The Media Line that Amman will not remove the ban on the Israeli ambassador unless Jordan’s demands are met.

“I prefer to cut all relations with Israel,” al-Saud elaborated. “It is not about the latest incident. I don’t think it is important for us to have ties with Israel, period.”

Al-Saud urged that the “murderer” be put on trial as soon as possible. He clarified that all Jordanians agree with this position and not only the government.

The diplomatic crisis came against the backdrop of tensions centered on the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa Mosque complex. Following the killing of two police officers at the Jerusalem holy site on July 14, Israel installed metal detectors at its entrances, a move vehemently rejected by Muslims worldwide. Two weeks of upheaval ensued, leading Netanyahu to backtrack and remove the security measures, instead deploying a special police unit of 200 officers equipped with cutting-edge technologies.

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