Embassy Rift Hangs Up Jordan Water-Sharing

YERUSHALAYIM -

The diplomatic rift between Israel and Jordan over an incident in which a guard at the embassy in Amman killed two Jordanian citizens is now hindering progress on a $10 billion water deal, according to media reports.

Senior officials were quoted as saying that Yerushalayim has notified Amman that the water project will not move forward until Ambassador Einat Schlein and her staff are permitted to return to the embassy. The project, a pipeline transferring water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, was in the final planning stages when the incident occurred.

They told Channel 10 that the Israelis rejected a Jordanian request to continue the pipeline discussions by phone, conditioning progress on the project to reopening of the embassy.

“The position of the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office is that we cannot have a situation where on the one hand the Jordanians do not allow us to reopen the embassy and on the other hand we continue to advance projects that are important to them as if nothing had happened,” an anonymous Israeli official said.

In response, the Jordanians reportedly threatened to carry on without Israeli cooperation. Jordanian media have quoted officials claiming that they don’t need Israel to build the pipeline, and could engage Saudi Arabia to partner with them instead.

Jordan, which has been angry about the incident and the way it was handled in Israel – the guard was treated by the prime minister as a national hero – repeated its position two weeks ago that it would not allow the Israeli ambassador to return or the embassy to reopen if the guard is not put on trial.

The Jordanians were not placated by an Israeli investigation into the incident, which has not led to prosecution of the guard, who reportedly acted in self-defense.

Hadashot News (formerly Channel 2) reported last week that the Shin Bet investigation determined that the security guard was justified in shooting Mohammed Jawawdeh, who stabbed him with a screwdriver after learning that he was Israeli. Moyal’s landlord was also shot and killed by Moyal by accident during the incident. According to the report, there was no doubt Moyal acted in self-defense and there were no grounds for prosecuting him.