Jordan king visits slain embassy stabber’s family, vows justice
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Jordan king visits slain embassy stabber’s family, vows justice

Abdullah says kingdom was ‘infuriated’ when Netanyahu embraced Israeli security guard who killed the attacker and a second man

Zakaria al-Jawadah, center left, the father of Mohammed Mohammed al-Jawawdeh, a 17-year-old Jordanian, who attacked an Israeli security guard on Sunday evening and was shot dead, cries at a funeral tent in Amman, Jordan, Monday, July 24, 2017.  (AP Photo/Reem Saad)
Zakaria al-Jawadah, center left, the father of Mohammed Mohammed al-Jawawdeh, a 17-year-old Jordanian, who attacked an Israeli security guard on Sunday evening and was shot dead, cries at a funeral tent in Amman, Jordan, Monday, July 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Reem Saad)

Jordan’s King Abdullah II vowed justice over the death of a teenager who was killed by an Israeli security guard after being stabbed by him with a screwdriver.

Abdullah paid a condolence visit to the family on Thursday and lashed out at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying everyone in the kingdom was “infuriated” by what he called “unacceptable and provocative behavior” in connection with the deadly shooting on Sunday.

During the incident the guard shot dead his stabber — 16-year old Mohammed Jawawdeh — and Bashar Hamarneh, a doctor and landlord of the apartment they were in, located in the Israeli embassy compound in Amman.

While Jordanian authorities sought to question him, the guard was able to return to Israel a day later due to diplomatic immunity. Netanyahu received the guard warmly at his office and said he had acted “calmly.” Israel said he acted in self-defense.

Abdullah, who was abroad during the crisis, returned home on Thursday and convened top Jordanian government and security officials.

The king said it would behove Netanyahu to take legal action, including putting the guard on trial, instead of “dealing with this crime… to achieve personal political gains.”

“Such unacceptable and provocative behavior at all levels infuriates all of us, leads to insecurity and fuels extremism in the region,” the king warned.

The monarch’s unusually harsh language appeared aimed, in part, at defusing widespread anger in Jordan over the shooting.

Authorities said the guard opened fire after the teen attacked him during a furniture delivery.

The guard’s speedy return home and Netanyahu’s praise of him further inflamed public opinion in Jordan, where a 1994 peace treaty with Israel remains deeply unpopular.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on July 25, 2017 meets with security guard 'Ziv,' who shot dead two Jordanians as he was being stabbed by one of them at the Israeli Embassy compound in Amman on July 23. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on July 25, 2017 meets with security guard ‘Ziv,’ who shot dead two Jordanians as he was being stabbed by one of them at the Israeli Embassy compound in Amman on July 23. (Haim Zach/GPO)

The guard, who has only been identified by the name Ziv, was questioned by Israeli authorities on Thursday and gave his account of the incident.

On the government level, Israel and Jordan cooperate closely, if discreetly, on security.

Shared interests have helped the relationship survive, despite repeated crises, including the embassy shooting and, in parallel, an escalating Israeli-Palestinian dispute over the Temple Mount that is holy to Muslims and Jews.

File: Jordan's King Abdullah II speaks during a press conference with US President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden at the White House on April 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)
File: Jordan’s King Abdullah II speaks during a press conference with US President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden at the White House on April 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

Jordan is the custodian of the holy site, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Jordan was involved in behind-the-scenes negotiations to end the latest escalation.

Netanyahu and Abdullah had spoken by phone on Monday evening, just before the return of the guard to Israel. Several hours later, Israel removed metal detectors it had installed at the Jerusalem shrine, in response to a deadly July 14 shooting attack there in which three Israeli Arab gunmen killed two Israeli police officers using weapons they had earlier smuggled to the site.

The metal detectors had triggered widespread Muslim protests, amid allegations that Israel was trying to expand its control at the site under the guise of security — a claim Israel denied.

Palestinians celebrate outside the Lions Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem on July 27 2017 after more Israeli barriers were removed from the Temple Mount. (AFP / AHMAD GHARABLI)
Palestinians celebrate outside the Lions Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem on July 27 2017 after more Israeli barriers were removed from the Temple Mount. (AFP / AHMAD GHARABLI)

Still, the sequence of events — return of the guard, then the removal of the metal detectors — led to widespread speculation of a tradeoff. The optics appeared to be problematic for both leaders.

As Netanyahu fended off criticism at home that he had surrendered to Muslim pressure over the metal detectors, he went out of his way to portray the return of the guard as an achievement — to the dismay of the Jordanians.

The king told Thursday’s gathering at the condolence visit that Israel’s handling of the embassy shooting, among other issues, “will have a direct impact on the nature of our relations.”

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