Jordan’s king demands Israel put guard on trial for killing Jordanians

King Abdullah at a news conference following a meeting with the French president in Paris on June 19, 2017. (Reuters)

Jordan’s King Abdullah demanded on Thursday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put on trial an embassy security guard who shot dead two Jordanians, and said relations between the neighboring states were at risk.

Netanyahu gave the guard a hero’s embrace after Israel brought him home under diplomatic immunity, behavior that the king said was “provocative on all fronts and enrages us, destabilizes security and fuels extremism”.

“We demand that the Israeli Prime Minister abides by his commitment and takes all measures to ensure the trial of the killer, and not handle this like a political show to achieve personal political gains,” he said.

The guard shot dead Jordanian teenager Mohammad Jawawdah at Israel’s embassy in Amman on Sunday as well as the landlord of the house in the compound where the guard lived. Israel said the guard had been defending himself after Jawawdah attacked him with a screwdriver in a “terrorist attack”.

But Jordanian police, who were unable to question the guard, said on Monday that he had fired on the 16-year-old after the young man, who worked for a furniture company and was delivering an order, got into a brawl and attacked him. It was not clear how the landlord came to be shot.

Abdullah, who visited the family of the young teen and paid his condolences on Thursday, said the state would “do everything within its means” to get justice for the two men. Jordan is one of two Arab states with which Israel has peace treaties, and such an outburst against Israel is rare.

Outraged Jordanians

Abdullah also cited a previous incident that outraged Jordanians, in which a Jordanian judge was shot in March 2014 by an Israeli soldier at a border crossing. No investigation was ever conducted. “The way Israel handles the embassy case and the judge’s killing and other cases will have a direct impact on the nature of our relationship,” Abdullah said.

Many Jordanians have accused the authorities of abdicating sovereignty by letting the guard leave, and lawmakers walked out of parliament in protest.

Jordan’s public prosecutor was quoted on state news agency Petra as saying the Israeli security guard was charged under local penal laws with one count of murder and illegal possession of a firearm. Diplomatic immunity did not mean the “killer” could not be put on trial in his own country, the Jordanian prosecutor said.

An Israeli judicial source who declined to be named said state prosecutors were giving “preliminary consideration” to an investigation. Asked if this could potentially lead to criminal charges, the source said: “Theoretically, any outcome is certainly possible.”

An Israeli government source, who also declined to be named, said Israel was also “giving preliminary consideration to offering compensation to the family of the second Jordanian killed in the incident”, meaning the landlord.  

Israel envoy to be barred until shooting probed  

Jordan will not allow the return of Israel’s ambassador until the shooting of two Jordanians by an embassy security guard has been properly investigated, a government official said on Friday.

“Jordan will not allow ambassador Einat Shlein or the rest of the embassy staff to return until a thorough investigation has been opened” into Sunday’s shooting, the official said.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:49 - GMT 06:49