Israel’s new ambassador to Jordan takes up post after diplomatic crisis

Israel’s new ambassador to Jordan takes up post after diplomatic crisis

Amir Weissbrod, a fluent Arabic speaker who has also worked in Morocco, brings to an end a nine-month standoff after Israeli guard shot dead two Jordanians, saying he was attacked

Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Amir Weissbrod (Courtesy MFA)
Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Amir Weissbrod (Courtesy MFA)

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Monday its new ambassador to Jordan is taking up his posting, ending a months-long spat between the two countries over a deadly embassy shooting.

Amir Weissbrod’s posting ends one of the tensest periods between Israel and Jordan since the two signed a peace treaty in 1994.

Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said Monday that Weissbrod, a career diplomat, arrived in the capital, Amman, earlier in the day.

Jordan approved Weissbrod’s as Israel’s new ambassador last month.

The return of an Israeli envoy to Amman comes after the two countries agreed to end a diplomatic standoff following the shooting deaths of two Jordanians by an Israeli security guard who Israel said opened fire in self-defense after one of the men stabbed him.

The Foreign Ministry named Weissbrod as ambassador in February. A diplomat who previously headed the Middle East Bureau at the Foreign Ministry’s Center for Political Research, Weissbrod is a fluent Arabic speaker who served as first secretary in Israel’s Jordanian embassy between 2001 and 2004. He has also served in Israel’s Liaison Bureau in Morocco.

His appointment received final confirmation from the Israeli cabinet on February 25.

Israel’s previous ambassador to Jordan, Einat Schlein, hurriedly left Amman on July 23 after the Jordanians were killed and the Israeli security guard was injured during the altercation in the embassy compound. The details of the incident remain a subject of disagreement between the two countries.

Jordanian security forces stand on guard before protesters during a demonstration near the Israeli embassy in the capital Amman on July 28, 2017, calling for the shutting down of the embassy, expelling the ambassador, and cancelling the 1994 peace treaty with Israel. (AFP/KHALIL MAZRAAWI)

On January 18, Israel and Jordan reached an agreement that ended the standoff, including an understanding that Schlein would not return to Amman.

A Jordanian government spokesperson in January said 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.

The Jordanian spokesperson, Mohammad Momani, 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.

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, would reopen.

Diverging from the terms announced by Jordan, the statement said Israeli authorities would come to a decision “in the coming weeks” as to whether the guard, Ziv Moyal, would stand trial over the shooting.

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)

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.

Right after the incident, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave Moyal a hero’s welcome in Jerusalem, which widened the rift with Jordan.

Israeli officials said Israel has paid reparation money to the Jordanian government, but not to the families of the landlord and worker killed in the incident. It is unclear how much had been paid.

The embassy in Amman was “gradually” reopening, the ministry said in February, but it remained without an ambassador until Monday.

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