Netanyahu Orders Evacuation of Israel Embassy in Jordan, Fearing Violent Protests

Premier, FM Lieberman order diplomatic staff in Amman to return a day ahead of schedule over expected anti-Israel rallies.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered the early evacuation of Israel's embassy in Jordan on Wednesday, over fears of violent anti-Israel protests similar to those which erupted in Cairo last week.

Protocol stipulates that all employees return to Israel every weekend, with the exclusion of one diplomatic representative as well as a security team.

On Wednesday, however, it was affirmed that Israel had decided to vacate its Jordanian embassy a day earlier than schedule, following fears of violent protests outside the embassy building, expected to take place on Thursday and throughout the weekend.

A senior Foreign Ministry official told Haaretz that the planned protest was organized on Facebook, adding that more than 3,000 signed up to participate.

Jordan Israel protest - AP -  Oct. 26, 2004

However, officials estimated that only a few several hundred will actually arrive, adding that they were confident that Jordanian security forces would disperse the rally before it got out of hand.

"Jordan has a 'responsible adult' and they will not allow for riots similar to those which took place in Cairo," one Foreign Ministry official said, adding that "the embassy was closed a day ahead of schedule just to be sure."

Netanyahu and Lieberman's decision to vacate the Israeli embassy came following last week's tumultuous anti-Israel protests in Cairo, which culminated in protesters breaking into the embassy building.

Egyptian commandos released six besieged security guards from the Israeli Embassy, while an Israeli Air Force plane evacuated over 80 diplomats, including family members from Cairo, after a mass group of Egyptian protesters broke into the embassy.

Speaking of the possible aftermath of the attack of Israel's embassy, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters on Monday that the "immediate crisis with property and diplomatic security in Cairo seems to have calmed," adding that she felt "both governments have made appropriate statements."

"Our hope is to avoid any spillover into the larger region," Nuland said, adding that the Egyptian government has made clear that they regret [the incident], that they are taking steps. They did take steps. So we are hoping that it was indeed an isolated incident."

The U.S. official added that Washington felt "that both the Egyptian and the Israeli governments spoke strongly about the importance of bringing this situation under control and the fact that it has now been brought under control gives us some hope going forward."

"But obviously we all need to be vigilant," Nuland said.