Jordan’s Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour said Tuesday that the Israeli government was “completely” responsible for the “hideous” shooting of a Palestinian-Jordanian judge at a border crossing.
The shooting of Raed Zeiter, a 38-year-old judge who Israel said had attacked its soldiers and tried to steal one of their weapons, has set off a diplomatic row between Israel and Jordan, which signed a peace treaty two decades ago.
“The Jordanian government holds the Israeli government completely responsible for the hideous crime,” Ensour told MPs at a meeting in parliament to discuss the shooting that took place on Monday.
He insisted “the Israeli government’s excuses do not justify that treacherous act.”
The IDF said its preliminary findings that Zeiter had attacked the soldiers were based on extensive questioning of witnesses and that the investigation, which is being handled by the military police, was ongoing.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights, however, disputed the army’s account, saying one of the soldiers pushed Zeiter after he had disembarked from a bus with other passengers so that Israeli soldiers could search it.
Zeiter responded in kind and other soldiers joined the scuffle, with one of them firing three rounds at his chest, the PCHR said, citing “a witness.”
He was left bleeding for 30 minutes without any medical help before an Israeli ambulance came to retrieve the body, the group said.
“PCHR condemns the killing of Zeiter in cold blood… and urges the international community to act immediately to stop the crimes of the (Israeli) occupation forces,” it said.
Ensour said Israel had accepted a Jordanian request to take part in a probe of the incident.
“Jordan has pressured Israel to formally apologize. Jordan is now part of the probe into the shooting,” he said.
“The way Jordan will deal with the development of this issue depends on how Israel acts on it in line with the final results of the investigation.”
Israel expressed regret over the shooting, but stopped short of apologizing.
“Israel regrets the death of Judge Raed Zeiter yesterday at the King Hussein (Allenby) bridge and expresses its sympathies to the people and government of Jordan,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said.
But Jordan demanded that the soldiers involved be punished.
“We will not spare any efforts to expose Israeli lies. We will not remain silent about this ugly crime,” said Parliament speaker Atef Tarawneh.
“Jordan’s credibility and balanced position does not mean that Israel continues its violations. Jordanians are patient but their anger will go beyond pain and sorrow.”
Haaretz reported that a Netanyahu envoy, Isaac Molho, had been in 24 hours of discussions with Jordanian officials to try and “prevent any escalation.”
A senior Israeli official told AFP on condition of anonymity that there were “discreet consultations at a high level between the two governments.”
Jordan’s principal Islamist opposition, which has called repeatedly for severing diplomatic ties with Israel, condemned the incident.
“The Israeli action proves that the Zionist enemy does not respect any agreements,” Murad Adaileh of the Islamic Action Front said in a statement, referring to a 1994 peace treaty between the two countries.
“The aggression against the Jordanian citizen shows the brutality of the Zionist occupation,” he said, urging the government to deal with the incident “in a way that would put an end to (Israel’s) carelessness.”
A Jordanian citizen attending the meeting in parliament tried to burn an Israeli flag but security guards stepped in and removed him from the building.
Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab countries to have signed a peace treaty with Israel.