On Sunday night, during the meeting of the security cabinet, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his advisers, and senior Foreign Ministry officials realized that the crisis over the shooting in the Israeli Embassy in Jordan was getting increasingly complicated. Jordanian security forces had surrounded the embassy compound, reports were received about possible demonstrations, the evacuation of the diplomats was being delayed because the Jordanians wanted to question the security guard involved in the incident and the Israeli diplomats in the embassy were starting to sound nervous.
Netanyahu spoke that evening to Israel's ambassador to Jordan, Eilat Schlein, and to the wounded security guard to get a personal impression of the situation. "We're going to get you back to Israel," Netanyahu told them. "We've had experience with this."
Netanyahu was referring to the rescue of the Israeli diplomats and security personnel in Israel's embassy in Cairo in 2011 after it was attacked by a frenzied mob. While Jerusalem did not believe this would turn into a rerun of that incident, the decision was not to take chances and to start dealing with the crisis the same way.
Two senior Israeli officials who asked not to be named said that Netanyahu had tried unsuccessfully Sunday night to reach Jordan's King Abdullah, who was on the American west coast at the time, to ask him to intervene in resolving the crisis. Netanyahu also called Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer and asked him to seek help from the highest level at the White House. One of Netanyahu's advisers also asked the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, for help.
Dermer called U.S. President Donald Trump's senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and America's special peace process envoy Jason Greenblatt and asked them for help. A senior Israeli official said that Kushner and Greenblatt updated Trump about the developing crisis in Jordan. According to the official, Trump instructed the two to intervene with the Jordanians and prevent the crisis from escalating.
Kushner contacted high-level officials in the Jordanian government and during the night between Sunday and Monday (Israel time) managed to reach Abdullah and asked him to help find a solution that would prevent the Jordanian-Israeli tensions – already high because of the events on the Temple Mount – from getting worse. One of Kushner's requests was that the Israeli diplomats be allowed to leave Jordan.
At the same time, Trump sent Greenblatt to the region to get involved in solving both the embassy crisis and the Temple Mount crisis. At the White House's instructions, the acting American ambassador to Jordan also contacted senior Jordanian Foreign Ministry officials and heads of the kingdom's security services, asking them to help bring a quick end to the predicament.
"We decided to quickly approach the highest level officials because we understood this was a volatile situation and that we had to end the crisis as soon as possible," said a senior Israeli official. "The Americans were very helpful and play a significant role in resolving the embassy crisis."
Friedman referred to the U.S. intervention during a meeting Tuesday morning in the Knesset with the legislative caucus for Israeli-American relations, headed by Israeli lawmakers Nahman Shai and Avraham Nagosa.
"We had a situation in Jordan that could have gone bad," Friedman said. "With the work of officials in the U.S., together with the prime minister of Israel and King of Jordan, without a lot of noise and fanfare and with careful deliberation, we were able to defuse a very difficult situation very quickly that under different circumstances wouldn't have been resolved."
Kushner's conversation with Abdullah, as well as the rest of the American assistance in this regard, was the background for the statement issued Tuesday morning: "I want to thank President Trump for instructing his adviser Jared Kushner and dispatching his envoy Jason Greenblatt to the region to aid our efforts to bring back the embassy team quickly," said Netanyahu. "I also thank King Abdullah of Jordan for our close cooperation."
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now