US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner reportedly called Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Sunday in a bid to help end the diplomatic standoff between Amman and Jerusalem over the fatal shooting at Israel’s embassy in the country.
After an incident where an Israeli security guard was stabbed and wounded and then shot and killed the Jordanian attacker and a bystander, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried and failed to get hold of the Jordanian King.
Netanyahu then instructed Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer to try to enlist the White House’s assistance in ending the crisis, after Jordan said it would not allow the security guard to leave or extend diplomatic immunity to him, two unnamed Israeli officials told the Haaretz daily Tuesday.
The decision to reach out to the US to help defuse tensions with Jordan came as relations were already strained with Amman over tensions at the Temple Mount.
Israel installed metal detectors at the entrances to the Mount in the wake of a July 14 terror attack at the site, when three Arab Israelis shot and killed two police officers with weapons an accomplice smuggled into the compound. The new security measures caused widespread anger in the Muslim world, particularly in Jordan, which administers the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock on the compound.
After Dermer’s requests to Kushner and Trump’s envoy for Middle East peace Jason Greenblatt to intercede, the two updated the US president on the growing crisis, and Trump instructed them to help end the standoff and reach out to the Jordanians, one of the officials told the newspaper.
On Sunday night, Kushner spoke on the phone with Abdullah, who at the time was in the US, asking that the king allow the Israeli embassy staff to leave Jordan, according to the report.
As part of the US efforts to end the crisis, Greenblatt was dispatched to Amman and Jerusalem, where he held meetings with Netanyahu and Jordan’s foreign minister as he tried to help broker an agreement.
Netanyahu eventually spoke to Abdullah directly on Monday evening following a trip to Jordan by Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman.
Late on Monday night, the Amman embassy staff — including the security guard — returned to Israel, and shortly after the security cabinet voted to remove the metal detectors from the Temple Mount, a move Jordan had been demanding.
In a statement, Netanyahu thanked Trump for “directing Jared Kushner and dispatching Jason Greenblatt to help with our efforts to bring the Israeli embassy staff home quickly. I thank King Abdullah [II] as well for our close cooperation.”
Speaking at the Knesset on Tuesday, Friedman hailed the Trump administration’s role in resolving the dispute.
“Because we had a real opportunity to see how effectively and closely our two countries work; because we had a situation in Jordan which was potentially something that could have gone very badly,” he said. “And with no fanfare, but a lot of hard work and behind-the-scenes discussions by the senior officials in the US and, of course, the prime minister [of Israel] and the king of Jordan, we were able to defuse a situation very quickly.”
Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.