A Jordanian lawmaker on Monday praised a Palestinian terrorist who killed two Israelis in a West Bank attack a day earlier, saluting him for “killing the Jews” and going on to call Israel’s ambassador “a descendant of monkeys and pigs,” as the parliament in Amman called to expel the envoy over tensions at the Temple Mount.
“I salute the Palestinian people and the Jerusalemites… in beloved Palestine,” MP Khalil Atiyeh said during a parliament session.
Standing up and performing a military salute gesture, Atiyeh added: “I stand to salute the Palestinian hero Omar Abu Laila, the leader of the Salfit operation who killed the Jews yesterday. O hero, salutations to you. May God bless you.”
Israeli authorities say Abu Laila, 18, stabbed a soldier and managed to gain control of his weapon on Sunday morning, before embarking on a shooting spree. The soldier, 19-year-old Sgt. Gal Keidan, was declared dead at the scene, and Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, 47, who was hit by a bullet fired by the terrorist as he drove by, died Monday.
Abu Laila, who hailed from Zawiya, a Palestinian village in the northern West Bank near the Green Line, fled to Bruqin, a Palestinian village where Israeli security forces were pursuing him, an IDF spokesman said.
Security forces were still searching for the suspect as of Monday afternoon, according to the military.
Atiyeh was speaking at a parliament session in which lawmakers called on Jordan’s leadership to expel the Israeli ambassador from the kingdom, in response to “ongoing Israel aggression” at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where there have been rising tensions over a side building known as the Golden Gate, or Gate of Mercy. Palestinians have begun using it as a new mosque, while Israel is seeking to prevent that and seal the building.
“The government must ask this ambassador, a descendant of monkeys and pigs, to leave our country, and ask our ambassador to come back from beloved Palestine,” Atiyeh said during his speech, referring to Amir Weissbrod, who began his term last year.
“The parliament recommended the government recall the Jordanian ambassador from Israel and expel the Israeli ambassador from Amman to confront the ongoing Israeli aggression at holy sites in occupied Jerusalem,” reported the official Petra news agency.
Lawmakers also called on the government to address the UN Security Council about “stopping Israeli violations and protecting the Palestinian people.”
Jordan is the only Arab country apart from Egypt to have a peace deal with Israel. But the treaty is overwhelmingly opposed by Jordanians, more than half of whom are of Palestinian origin.
The Gate of Mercy was sealed by Israeli authorities in 2003 because the group managing the area had ties to Hamas, and it has been kept closed to stop illegal construction work there by the Waqf that Israeli officials said caused irreparable harm to archaeologically significant parts of the holy site.
Israeli officials believe the work carried out by the Waqf, which refused to allow any Israeli observers, has led to the destruction of antiquities from periods of Jewish presence in the area.
The Waqf has repeatedly challenged the closure, convening and staging prayer-protests in the area that often erupted into clashes with police.
Last month, the Waqf reopened the site and Palestinian worshipers began to use it as a mosque, despite Israeli attempts to keep the area sealed.
Since then, several low-level clashes have broken out between Palestinian worshipers and Israeli security forces. On Thursday, police sealed off the entire Temple Mount after a firebomb was thrown at an officer, who was lightly hurt in the attack.
On Sunday, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court said the Gate of Mercy building should be closed while legal proceedings continue.
The site’s administrator, the Waqf religious organization, was given 60 days to respond.
The Jordanian Foreign Ministry rapped the decision, arguing that the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court did not even have the authority to rule on matters pertaining to the Temple Mount because it is “occupied territory.”
It called on Israel to cancel the court’s decision and not harm the status quo at the flashpoint site.
High-level Israeli and Jordanian officials have been holding talks in the hope of defusing the situation. Earlier this month, Israeli officials traveled to Jordan for meetings, and Jordanian officials have also visited Jerusalem, according to Israeli reports.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.