In bitter tirade, Jordan king slams Netanyahu’s ‘political showmanship’
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Abdullah: 'Israel’s handling of embassy case... will have direct impact on our relations'

In bitter tirade, Jordan king slams Netanyahu’s ‘political showmanship’

Abdullah II calls for Israeli security guard to be prosecuted, says PM's embracing him after embassy shooting 'threatens regional security'

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

File: Jordan's King Abdullah II speaks during a press conference with US President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden at the White House on April 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)
File: Jordan's King Abdullah II speaks during a press conference with US President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden at the White House on April 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Thursday launched an unprecedented, bitter tirade against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his “absolutely unacceptable” warm reception of an Israeli security guard in Amman who shot dead two Jordanian citizens his week after one of them attacked him with a screwdriver.

The king called for the security guard to be tried and accused Netanyahu of “political showmanship” and of using “this crime to score personal political points,” after the Israeli leader posted photos of himself embracing the guard.

The monarch threatened the affair would have a negative affect on bilateral ties between Amman and Jerusalem, directly impacting relations.

The royal palace in Jordan tweeted a series of the king’s criticisms of Netanyahu.

He also appeared to take sole credit for resolving the standoff between Israel and angry Muslim worshipers at the Temple Mount.

“The Israeli prime minister is required to honor his responsibilities and take the necessary legal measures to ensure that the killer is tried and justice is served, rather than exhibiting political showmanship in dealing with this crime to score personal political points,” Abdullah said at a National Policies Council meeting at Al Husseiniya Palace, west of Amman.

“Such conduct is utterly rejected and provocative. It angers us all, threatens regional security, and fuels extremism. It is absolutely unacceptable,” he said.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu hosted the security guard, “Ziv” (whose last name has not been cleared for publication), and Israel’s ambassador to Jordan, Einat Shlain, in his Jerusalem office.

“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,” Netanyahu said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on July 25, 2017 meets with security guard 'Ziv,' who shot dead two Jordanians as he was being stabbed by one of them at the Israeli Embassy compound in Amman on July 23. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on July 25, 2017, meets with security guard ‘Ziv,’ who shot dead two Jordanians as he was being stabbed by one of them at the Israeli Embassy compound in Amman on July 23. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Photos of the meeting, including some of Netanyahu hugging the security guard, were widely publicized by the Prime Minister’s Office, including via his Arabic language social media accounts.

Citing self-defense, the security guard had shot dead a 19-year-old who was repairing furniture in his apartment adjacent to the embassy and attacked him. The landlord, who was also present, was hit by a bullet and later died of his wounds. The guard was accredited as an Israeli diplomat and thus was protected from arrest and interrogation. But the Jordanian authorities initially refused to let him and other embassy staff leave the country.

Only after US intervention did Amman relent, allowing the Israelis to leave Jordan. However, Jordan said the Israeli diplomats will not be allowed to return unless the guard is put on trial, Jordanian media reported Thursday.

In the presence of several top officials, King Abdullah on Thursday vowed to “dedicate all the efforts and resources of the Jordanian state to ensure that justice takes its course.”

“And Israel’s handling of the case at the embassy, the killing of Judge Raed Zuaiter [who owned the apartment the Israeli guard lived on], and other cases will have a direct impact on our relations,” he added.

The king said that Jordan “managed the crisis” surrounding the Temple Mount and succeeded in reopening the Al-Aqsa Mosque there “in its entirety through our common stand with our Palestinian brethren.”

Also on Thursday, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman took credit for getting Israel to remove all the security measures it had installed after a July 14 terror attack on the holy site. It was the king’s outreach to US President Donald Trump that moved the Israelis to give in in the two-week long standoff, Riyadh claimed.

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