Jordan approves Israel’s new ambassador to the kingdom

Amir Weissbrod, a career diplomat, set to take up position in Amman, which has been without an envoy since July when Israeli security guard shot dead two Jordanians when attacked

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

Jordan has approved Amir Weissbrod as Israel’s new ambassador, Channel 10 reported.

The Wednesday approval came 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 tried to stab him.

The Foreign Ministry named Weissbrod as ambassador last month. A career 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 by the Israeli cabinet on February 25.

Israel’s outgoing ambassador to Jordan, Einat Schlein, hurriedly left Amman last 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 are a subject of disagreement between Israel and Jordan.

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, apparently 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 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)

Israel has maintained Moyal acted in self-defense, with sources in Jerusalem saying that he would not be prosecuted.

Moyal said he was attacked in his apartment by one of 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 has remained without an ambassador.

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