Knesset speaker slams Jordanian counterpart for praising terror

Yuli Edelstein says head of Jordan’s parliament should condemn Temple Mount attack that killed 2 Israeli policeman or ‘shut up’

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein attends a ceremony at the Knesset,  Jerusalem, June 6, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein attends a ceremony at the Knesset, Jerusalem, June 6, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein on Monday panned his Jordanian counterpart for praising the terrorists who shot dead two police officers in Jerusalem, saying the chairman of Jordan’s parliament should “shut up” if he didn’t have anything appropriate to say.

It was an unusual and direct tongue-lashing of Parliament Speaker Atef Tarawneh, who on Sunday described the three Arab Israelis who carried out the attack at the Temple Mount Compound in the Old City as “martyrs” and blessed their families.

“Mr Tarawneh, the most basic demand from you, as a public figure and as a human being, was to strongly condemn this abominable crime,” Edelstein said in a statement. “You should have been among the first to say: It is absolutely forbidden to use violence anywhere — and certainly to not desecrate holy places! And if you weren’t going to condemn — it would have been better if you simply shut up!”

“While we are still hurting from the terror attack that happened on Friday at the Temple Mount compound in which two young policemen were murdered, the chairman of the Jordanian Parliament Tarawneh got up — at the parliament podium — and said: ‘The martyrs are watering the holy ground,'” Edelstein said. “It is inconceivable that such a senior figure, in a country with which we have a peace agreement, should encourage the murder of Israeli citizens.”

Israel and Jordan signed a peace agreement in 1994 and have enjoyed close but sometimes cold official ties.

Edelstein added that statements such as those made by Tarawneh make regional cooperation harder to attain and “one can only regret that.”

His comments came after the Jordanian parliament on Sunday praised the terrorists who carried out the shooting less than a day after King Abdullah II condemned the attack.

Police officers Haiel Sitawe, 30 and Kamil Shnaan, 22, both from Druze communities, were killed in the assault. After shooting the officers the three attackers retreated into the Temple Mount compound where they were killed by pursuing police.

The Jordanian parliament also criticized Israel for closing the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), and prayed for the souls of the three terrorists who carried out the attack, Jordanian media reported.

“May the mercy of Allah be upon our martyrs who sowed and watered the pure land,” Tarawneh said. “We will raise our heads through the sacrifice of the young Palestinians who are still fighting in the name of the nation.”

He blessed the families of the three cousins, Muhammad Ahmed Muhammad Jabarin, 29; Muhammad Hamad Abdel Latif Jabarin, 19 and Muhammad Ahmed Mafdal Jabarin, 19, who carried out the attack.

Tarawneh blamed Israel for the attack, claiming that the “occupation” of Jerusalem and the West Bank justified the killing.

On Saturday night, Abdullah had spoken to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and condemned the attack.

According to the official Petra News Agency, the Jordanian king slammed those who “undermine security and stability” and pave the way for further violence during the call, in an apparent reference to the Arab Israeli gunmen.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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