Security Cabinet to Meet Over Jordan Diplomatic Crisis

YERUSHALAYIM -
Policemen and vehicles are seen near the Israel Embassy in Amman, Jordan, Sunday night. (Reuters/Stringer)

The Security Cabinet will meet Monday afternoon to discuss the diplomatic crisis with Jordan in the wake of Sunday night’s stabbing and shooting incident in an apartment belonging to the Israel Embassy in Amman. Jordan is demanding that Israel surrender for questioning the security guard who shot and killed a Jordanian who stabbed him. Israel has refused to do so, claiming that the security guard has diplomatic immunity.

A second Jordanian citizen who was wounded in the incident – the owner of the apartment – has died as well. The stabber was a 17-year-old Jordanian who was doing carpentry work in the apartment. His father told Jordanian media Monday that as far as he was concerned, his son was a “martyr,” and that the only possible punishment was the death penalty. Jordanian media was nearly entirely focused on the story Monday, with editorials in newspapers and broadcast media also demanding the death penalty.

Minutes after the incident, the security guard entered the Israel Embassy. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke with Israel Ambassador to Jordan Einat Shalin, and it was decided that the Israelis stationed at the embassy would evacuate the building and return home. However, Jordan refused to allow the security guard to leave, and most of the staff decided to remain in Jordan in solidarity with the guard. While embassy workers are free to leave, he is holed up in the embassy, which is surrounded by large numbers of Jordanian security officials. Amman police issued a statement saying that the incident was under control, but the statement did not mention the stabbing.

Speaking to Kol Baramah radio Monday, former Israel Ambassador to Jordan Dr. Oded Eran said that under international law Jordan has a right to question the security guard – but does not have a right to put him on trial. “Despite his diplomatic immunity the Jordanians have a right to question him, but he will not be tried in Jordan, rather in Israel, if a trial is found to be necessary,” he said.

Relations between Israel and Jordan had been cemented in a peace deal in 1994 but reached crisis point three years later when Mossad intelligence officers tried but failed to assassinate senior Hamas official Khaled Mashaal in Jordan.

Ties recovered after Israel delivered the antidote for the poison with which Mashaal had been injected. The Mossad chief at the time resigned and the two agents who carried out the failed plot were arrested and held in Jordan, but later freed.

The fortress-like embassy in the affluent Rabae district of Amman is protected by Jordanian gendarmes. It has long been a flashpoint of anti-Israeli protests at times of turmoil in the PA territories.

Violence against Israelis is rare in Jordan, a tightly policed country that is also a staunch regional ally of the United States. It also shares a long border with Israel.