Israel to reopen embassy in Jordan, which touts apology over shooting
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J'lem will decide soon whether to prosecute guard Ziv Moyal

Israel to reopen embassy in Jordan, which touts apology over shooting

Kingdom says Jerusalem agreed to all its demands to end diplomatic standoff sparked by July incident at embassy compound

Jordanian security forces stand on guard as protesters wave Jordanian flags and chant slogans during a demonstration near the Israeli embassy in the capital Amman on July 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Khalil Mazraawi)
Jordanian security forces stand on guard as protesters wave Jordanian flags and chant slogans during a demonstration near the Israeli embassy in the capital Amman on July 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Khalil Mazraawi)

A Jordanian government spokesperson said Thursday evening that he had received from Israel an “official memorandum” apologizing for the deaths of two Jordanians in a shooting incident at the Israeli Embassy in Amman in July, and the killing of a Jordanian judge in a separate incident in 2014.

Shortly afterward, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office put out a statement announcing that the embassy, which was closed in the wake of July’s incident, will reopen.

The Jordanian spokesperson, Mohammad Momani, also said Israel had agreed to comply with all the kingdom’s preconditions for resuming regular diplomatic relations between the two sides. Those included, he said, bringing legal action against the Israeli security guard accused of killing the two Jordanians in the embassy compound, and offering financial compensation to all three bereaved Jordanian families.

In its statement Thursday night, the PMO confirmed it had come to an agreement with Jordan over both incidents, and said the embassy will “will return to full activity immediately.” Diverging from the terms announced by Jordan, it said Israeli authorities would come to a decision “in the coming weeks” as to whether the guard, Ziv Moyal, will stand trial over the shooting.

“Israel attaches great importance to its strategic relations with Jordan, and the two countries will act to advance their cooperation and to strengthen the peace treaty between them,” the PMO said in its statement, which did not address the reported apology or reparations to Jordanian bereaved families.

Moyal shot the two Jordanians dead after one of them allegedly attacked him, sparking a diplomatic crisis between Jerusalem and Amman, and prompting all diplomatic staff, including Ambassador Einat Schlein, to return to Israel.

Jordanian Media Affairs and Communications Minister, Mohammad Momani, in Amman, Jordan, on December 2, 2013.( CC BY Official CTBTO Photostream, Wikimedia commons)

Jordan said Israel couldn’t return Schlein and the rest of the staff to the embassy until it put Moyal on trial.

The shooting at the embassy led to a nadir in bilateral ties, which were already strained over Israel’s decision to place metal detectors at entrances to the Temple Mount following a terror attack at the Jerusalem holy site. The metal detectors were later removed. Jordan is the custodian of the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, which sits atop the Temple Mount.

In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Jordan briefly refused to allow Moyal to return to Israel or to acknowledge his diplomatic immunity, a standoff that threatened to mushroom into a larger crisis.

But a day later, Moyal and the rest of the embassy staff were allowed to return to Israel, following a diplomatic push that included a phone call between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah II, along with US intervention and a visit in Amman by the head of the Shin Bet security agency, Nadav Argaman.

Netanyahu was criticized for his handling of the incident after his office released footage of him meeting and praising Moyal before either country’s investigators had determined what had happened during the incident.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on July 25, 2017,meets with Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Einat Schlein and security guard ‘Ziv,’ who shot dead two Jordanians as he was being stabbed by one of them. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Momani also said Thursday that Israel had agreed to compensate the family of Raed Zeiter, a 38-year-old judge killed in March 2014 at the Allenby Bridge Border Crossing between Israel and Jordan.

“The [Jordanian] government will take appropriate measures in accordance with the supreme national interests in light of the Israeli memorandum, especially as it included a response to all conditions set by the government following the embassy incident in order so the [Israeli] ambassador may be returned, including all legal proceedings,” Momani said.

The Jordanian spokesperson said all three Jordanian families agreed to accept the compensation.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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