Protestors chant slogans during a demonstration near the Israeli embassy in Amman, Jordan July 28, 2017. The poster reads "Close the terrorist embassy, dignity for the people". Photo by Muhammad Hamed/REUTERS.

Jerusalem-Amman diplomatic row continues over embassy attack


Jordan refuses to allow Israel’s ambassador to return to country unless security guard who shot dead two Jordanians is investigated and tried

Jordan remains steadfast in its refusal to allow Israel to return its ambassador to Amman unless an Israeli security guard involved in a shooting at the embassy last month is brought to trial.

Speaking to The Media Line, Yahya Al-Saud, head of the Palestine Committee in Jordan’s parliament and who is responsible for the Jerusalem file, confirmed that “an order was issued [Monday] banning the Israeli ambassador in the absence of an initial investigation in Israel over the actions of the security guard.

“And Jordan must be involved and kept aware of the proceedings,” he stressed.

Al-Saud’s statements comes after Jordanian government officials were quoted by local media as saying that they had sent a letter to Jerusalem reiterating that Einat Schlein could not return to her post without “guarantees of a serious and thorough investigation of the embassy guard and the bringing of him to trial.”

The guard, Ziv Moyal, was allegedly stabbed by teenager Mohammed Jawawdeh on July 23, after which he opened fire, killing the attacker along with a Jordanian bystander. The incident sparked a diplomatic crisis, which intensified when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave Moyal a hero’s welcome upon his return to Israel—a move described by Jordanian King Abdullah II as “unacceptable and provocative.”

In this respect, a Jordanian source told The Associated Press over the weekend that Netanyahu’s action had “damag[ed] bilateral relations and the regional acceptance Israel is seeking.”

Israel has since launched a probe into the incident, which the Jordanian parliament speaker called a “step in the right direction,” before adding that “justice must be served.” While Israel’s attorney general said the inquiry was routine, Moyal will likely be investigated on suspicion of manslaughter, according to media reports. As a signatory to the Vienna Convention, Israel is required to probe suspects upon their return from a country that provided them with diplomatic immunity against potential charges.

Hassan Ka’bia, a spokesman for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirmed to The Media Line that “the investigation is ongoing but that once it is done, a report will be transmitted to Jordanian authorities, in accordance with the law.” He said that no conclusions have yet been drawn.

Ka’bia further asserted that the incident should have led to such a blowup, and explained that the decision to bring home the Israeli diplomats was made by the Netanyahu government and that Amman had not expelled them. Lastly, he contended that “there are no issues between Israel and the Jordanian side, and, in fact, there is a meeting scheduled next week which will also be attended by the Palestinian Authority to discuss the borders.”

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

“I prefer to cut all relations with Israel,” Yahya Al-Saud affirmed to The Media Line. “It is not about the latest incident. I don’t think it is important for us to have ties with Israel, period. Our relationship is like a five-star hotel—it only benefits the heads of the country and not the average person.”

The embassy incident occurred against the backdrop of recent tensions centered on the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa Mosque complex. Following the killing of two police officers at the compound on July 14, Israel installed metal detectors at the holy site, a move vehemently rejected by Muslims worldwide. Two weeks of upheaval ensued, leading Netanyahu to backtrack and remove the security measures.

Thus far, Moyal has rejected all claims that the incident at the embassy in Jordan was sparked by an argument over furniture, instead insisting he was attacked for “nationalistic” reasons, an Israeli term used to designate acts of terror.