EghtesadOnline: Israeli diplomats and embassy personnel in Jordan were allowed to return home in the wake of a deadly shooting at the diplomatic compound in Amman, resolving a standoff between the two countries in a deal that also aims to reduce tensions with the Palestinians over a Jerusalem shrine.
Ambassador Einat Schlein led her staff across the Allenby Bridge from Jordan shortly before midnight, according to a government statement. Included in the group was the security guard who opened fire at a Jordanian man who stabbed him with a screwdriver, killing both his assailant and another Jordanian beside him, Bloomberg reported.
Jordan had initially refused to let the guard leave the country until he was investigated but Israel insisted he be released, saying he was protected from detention or interrogation by the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations. Shortly after the release, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet accepted Palestinian demands to remove metal detectors installed this month at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, replacing them with unspecified security equipment “based on advanced technologies,”’ according to a text message.
The embassy staff’s return “was made possible thanks to the close cooperation that took place over the past 24 hours between Israel and Jordan,” Netanyahu said in an email. He later texted another statement thanking U.S. President Donald Trump and Jordan’s King Abdullah for helping to resolve the crisis, as well as White House aides Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt.
Netanyahu had dispatched a senior security official to Amman on Monday -- identified by Israeli media as Nadav Argaman, head of the Shin-Bet domestic security agency -- to seek the security guard’s release, according to an earlier email. The breakthrough allowing the embassy staff to return came after Greenblatt flew from Washington to meet Netanyahu in Jerusalem and then hold meetings in Jordan.
The shooting had complicated efforts to end the deadly violence between Palestinians and Israel that erupted over new Israeli security arrangements at the contested Jerusalem shrine known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount. The holy site -- where Muslim faithful believe the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven and which Jews revere as the site of their biblical temple -- is under Israeli security control but Jordan is the religious custodian.
At the heart of the unrest are conflicting narratives over who controls the contested site, which Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war. Palestinians seek the site and the eastern sector of the city in which it lies as the capital of a future state.
The security cabinet also allocated 100 million shekels ($28 million) to install and operate the new equipment at the Jerusalem shrine, and bolster security forces there.
Israel said the metal detectors were purely a security precaution, put in place after Israeli-Arab gunmen killed two Israeli policemen at the site earlier this month. But Muslim opponents view them as cementing Israel’s grip over the holy place. The site has been a flashpoint for violence in the past, including events that cascaded into the second Palestinian uprising.
Jordan and Israel, both major U.S. allies in the region, signed a peace treaty in 1994, but relations have been fraught because of the failure to clinch an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Many Jordanians are of Palestinian descent, having fled there after escaping or being expelled from their homes in present-day Israel in fighting surrounding the Jewish state’s 1948 independence.