Israel Offers Five Million ‘Apologies’ To Jordan
Anger in Jordan despite agreement to reestablish ties with Israel
Israel has “expressed regret” to Jordan over last year’s fatal confrontation at the Israeli Embassy in Amman, in which security guard Ziv Moyal killed two Jordanians, one of which reportedly attacked him. Israel also “apologized” for the 2014 killing of Jordanian judge Raed Zuaiter, who was shot dead at a West Bank crossing point. The Israeli government sent an “official memorandum” to the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirming that the families of the three victims will receive financial compensation.
“The government will take the appropriate actions in accordance with the national interests following the Israeli note,” Jordanian spokesperson Mohammed Al-Momani asserted, adding that the families of the three “martyrs” were satisfied with Israel’s course of action.
The episode occurred on July 23, when teenager Mohammed Al-Jawawdeh, who was moving furniture in the embassy complex, allegedly stabbed Moyal, who opened fire in response. The building’s owner, who was on site, was killed in the crossfire. The incident sparked a major diplomatic crisis which intensified when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu feted Moyal upon his return to Israel—a move described by Jordanian King Abdullah II as “unacceptable and provocative.”
At the time, tensions were already running high between the two nations over Israel’s implementation of enhanced security measures at the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, atop which al-Aqsa mosque is located. That initiative, prompted by a terror attack at the compound, was eventually reversed amid widespread protests throughout the Arab-Islamic world.
Speaking to The Media Line, Sami Al-Jawawdeh, the victim’s uncle, confirmed the family received $1,663,800 in compensation. “We don’t compromise on [Mohammed’s] life, but King Abdullah committed to achieving justice and we implement whatever he orders.” He further stressed his non-recognition of the “Zionist entity” and reiterated that accepting the funds does not mean that the case will be dropped. “We require taking the criminal to trial,” Al-Jawawdeh said, noting Amman’s demand that Moyal be prosecuted as a condition for renewing diplomatic ties with Israel.
In fact, Al-Momani stated that Israel’s memorandum to the Jordanian government pledged “to implement and follow up the legal proceedings relating to the embassy incident.” However, Israeli media on Sunday reported that there was “no way” that criminal charges would be brought against Moyal, who the Israeli government says acted in self-defense.
After the deal was formalized, Netanyahu expressed appreciation to U.S. Mideast envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt for their behind-the-scenes efforts to resolve the crisis. The Israeli premier also announced that the embassy in Amman, which was shuttered following the deadly ordeal, would “return to full activity immediately,” although former Ambassador to Jordan Einat Schlein would be reassigned to another post.
Despite the apparent thaw in relations, many in Jordan remain opposed to “normalization” with Israel. Saleh al-Armouti, a Jordanian parliamentarian described the agreement as completely unacceptable. “The Jordanian streets are boiling [and] there is no need to resume diplomacy with Israel,” he told The Media Line. “And since when does [U.S. President Donald] Trump’s son in-law [Kushner] influence the Jordanian government’s decision more than its own people?”
In Al-Armouti estimation, Amman went about things backwards, suggesting instead that “the killer must first be taken to trial and then [Israel] can apologize and offer compensation. The [Jordanian government] is promoting the deal as if a victory was achieved but this is not true,” he affirmed.
Yahya Al-Saud, head of the Jordanian parliament’s Palestine Committee who also oversees the Jerusalem file, echoed these sentiments, telling The Media Line that he is against the move as “Israelis don’t comply with conditions [and] are violating the holy places in Jerusalem constantly despite the [1994 peace agreement] we have with them.”
Al-Saud revealed that his committee is currently “studying cancelling all agreements with Israel in the Jordanian parliament.”
Irrespective of the negative reactions, former Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Oded Eran believes that Jordanian government officials, as well as the public, have no option other to accept what King Abdullah decides. “[Jordanians] will resist reopening the embassy but this will not be allowed to happen,” he contended to The Media Line, citing as the main reason Israel’s contributions to Jordan in the fields of water, gas and security coordination.
“Jordanians must consider what is positive for their country before they think of cutting ties with Israel,” he concluded, “and [Abdullah’s] Royal Court understands the mutual interests.”