Jordan continues to block Israeli ambassador’s return
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Jordan continues to block Israeli ambassador’s return

Amman said waiting for legal action against security guard in embassy shooting incident before it allows envoy to come back

Security forces stand guard outside the Israeli Embassy in the residential Rabiyeh neighborhood of the Jordanian capital Amman on July 23, 2017. (AFP/Khalil Mazraawi)
Security forces stand guard outside the Israeli Embassy in the residential Rabiyeh neighborhood of the Jordanian capital Amman on July 23, 2017. (AFP/Khalil Mazraawi)

Jordan is waiting to see what legal action Israel takes against an Israeli embassy guard involved in a deadly shooting in Amman last month before it allows Jerusalem to bring its ambassador back into the country, a senior Jordanian government official said Friday.

Amman has reportedly told Israel to “hold on” when asked to allow Israel’s ambassador Einat Schlein to return to the kingdom.

The July 23 episode, in which Israeli embassy guard Ziv Moyal shot dead two Jordanians when attacked by one of them, sparked a diplomatic crisis between Jerusalem and Amman. Embassy staff returned to Israel a day later.

The guard said he was attacked by one of the two with a screwdriver, and Israel said he opened fire in self-defense.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the guard a hero’s welcome, infuriating Jordan. Jordan’s King Abdullah II said that Jordan was “infuriated” by the matter, calling it “unacceptable and provocative behavior.”

Israel has since said police will investigate the case.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with security guard Ziv Moyal (R) and Israel's Ambassador to Jordan Einat Schlein (L), at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on July 25, 2017. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with security guard Ziv Moyal (R) and Israel’s Ambassador to Jordan Einat Schlein (L), at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on July 25, 2017. (Haim Zach/GPO)

 

The Jordanian official told The Associated Press on Friday that Netanyahu’s behavior “is damaging to bilateral relations and the regional acceptance Israel is seeking.”

Last Friday, the State Prosecutor’s Office announced that it had opened a preliminary probe into the incident at the behest of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.

Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed Momani called Israel’s decision a “step in the right direction… We expect a complete follow-up on the legal procedure in accordance to international law relevant to these cases. Justice must be served.”

During security cabinet meetings following the incident, Mandelblit told ministers that as a signatory to the Vienna Convention, Israel is required to investigate suspects upon their return from a host country that provided diplomatic immunity for charges against them, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported last week.

While Mandelblit emphasized that the inquiry is entirely routine, Moyal will likely be investigated on suspicion of manslaughter, that report said.

Shortly upon returning home, Moyal was questioned by Israeli authorities over the incident, in which he said 17-year-old Mohammed Jawawdeh stabbed him after learning that he was Israeli.

Jawawdeh, the son of a furniture store owner, was in the embassy residence installing a bedroom set at the time of the incident. The landlord, Bashar Hamarneh, was also hit by a bullet and later died of his wounds.

Moyal has reportedly rejected Jordanian claims that the incident was sparked by a dispute over furniture, saying he was attacked for “nationalistic” reasons.

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