Peres voices ‘deep regret’ for Jordanian judge’s killing

President speaks with King Abdullah, affirms significance of bilateral ties; joint investigation launched into shooting

President Shimon Peres. (photo credit: AP/Mohammad Hannon)
President Shimon Peres. (photo credit: AP/Mohammad Hannon)

President Shimon Peres on Monday expressed his condolences to Jordan and to the family of a Palestinian-Jordanian judge killed by IDF fire at the Allenby Bridge border crossing last week, although he did not apologize for the shooting, whose exact circumstances have yet to be established.

“On behalf of the State of Israel, I wish to express my deepest condolences to the people of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan for the death of Judge Raed Zeiter,” Peres said.

“As the president of the State of Israel I would like to express compassion to the bereaved family, I share in their grief.”

Peres said he had spoken with King Abdullah II and conveyed Israel’s “deep regret” for the incident. The president’s official Twitter feed shared the text of Peres’s address on social media.

“Israel attaches great importance to our relations with Jordan and the peace agreement between our two countries,” he said. “King Abdullah II is a leader of vision, and under his leadership Jordan plays a key role in the search for peace and stability in the Middle East.”

Peres said Jerusalem and Amman had launched a joint investigation into the killing of Zeiter on March 10.

Raed Zeiter (photo credit: Channel 10 screenshot)
Raed Zeiter (photo credit: Channel 10 screenshot)

The president’s condolences largely mirrored those expressed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week. Netanyahu said “Israel regrets the death of Judge Raed Zeiter yesterday at the King Hussein (Allenby) bridge and expresses its sympathies to the people and government of Jordan.” Neither leader apologized for the judge’s death.

The IDF said its preliminary findings to the effect that Zeiter had attacked the soldiers were based on extensive questioning of witnesses and that the investigation, which is being handled by the military police, was ongoing.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights, however, disputed the army’s account, saying one of the soldiers pushed Zeiter after he had disembarked from a bus with other passengers so that Israeli soldiers could search it.

On Sunday, Abdullah visited Zeiter’s family and offered his condolences to them. The royal Twitter feed posted a photo of the king embracing Ala-Eddine Zeiter, the dead judge’s father.

Jordanian Lower House Speaker Atef Tarawneh and several MPs also visited the Zeiter family and paid their respects, the Jordan Times reported.

Last week, Jordan’s Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour said the Israeli government was “completely” responsible for the “hideous” shooting of the Palestinian-Jordanian judge at the border crossing.

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