Israeli embassy in Jordan begins resuming operations

Israeli embassy in Jordan begins resuming operations

With diplomatic crisis ended, offices expected to open to the public, new ambassador to be appointed within days

Jordanian security forces stand guard outside the Israeli embassy in Amman following a stabbing there on July 23, 2017. (AFP Photo/Khalil Mazraawi)
Jordanian security forces stand guard outside the Israeli embassy in Amman following a stabbing there on July 23, 2017. (AFP Photo/Khalil Mazraawi)

Israel’s embassy in Amman is returning to regular operations after the two countries ended a crisis in relations over a deadly altercation last year at the embassy compound.

Israel has not had an ambassador in Jordan since July, when two Jordanians were killed and the Israeli security guard who shot them was injured during an altercation. The details of the event are a subject of disagreement between Israel and Jordan.

A Jordanian government spokesperson said earlier this month that he had received from Israel an “official memorandum” apologizing for the deaths of the two Jordanians, as well as for the killing of a Jordanian judge in a separate incident at a border crossing between the two countries in 2014.

Shortly afterward, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office put out a statement announcing that the embassy would 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, and offering financial compensation to the bereaved Jordanian families.

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)

In its statement, the PMO confirmed it had come to an agreement with Jordan over both incidents and said the embassy “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.

After the shooting, Moyal said he was attacked in his apartment by one of the Jordanians, who stabbed him with a screwdriver while carrying out utility work. The second man, the landlord, was apparently killed accidentally by a stray bullet when Moyal opened fire.

Israel has maintained he acted in self-defense.

The embassy is now preparing to reopen to the public, Israeli diplomatic officials confirmed Tuesday. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon told The Times of Israel that the reopening was being done “gradually.”

Several staffers have returned to the embassy, and a tender launched last week for a new ambassador — Jordan has refused to accept the return of the previous ambassador, Einat Schlein — was in its final stages.

“The embassy is coming back into operation, and it’s vital to put this crisis behind us, because it wasn’t based on anything to do with the relations between the two states,” Minister for Regional Cooperation Tzachi Hanegbi told the Kan public broadcaster on Tuesday.

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