- Israel and Jordan want to resolve the embassy crisis, but the Jordanian public complicates matters
- Guard at Israeli embassy in Jordan lightly wounded in stabbing; assailant killed
Shin Bet security services chief Nadav Argaman traveled to Amman on Monday to negotiate a solution to the diplomatic crisis that developed after an Israeli Embassy guard shot dead a Jordanian teen who tried to stab him. Another Jordanian was also killed in the incident.
A senior Israeli defense official's trip to Jordan was reported earlier Monday, but Argaman's identity was not cleared for publication until Monday evening. Argaman met with the Jordanian intelligence chief in Amman Monday morning and returned to Israel later in the afternoon, when he briefed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the details of the talks.
"Talks are being held with the Jordanians via the defense establishment," a senior Israeli official, who asked to remain unnamed, told Haaretz. "We are trying to move toward ending this crisis."
Netanyahu spoke with Jordan's King Abdullah on both crises concerning the Temple Mount and the Israeli Embassy in Amman.
Speaking Monday at the beginning of a meeting with visiting Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Netanyahu said he had spoken twice the night before with Israel's ambassador to Jordan, Einat Schlein, and with the security guard. "I got the impression that she was handling things there well. I promised the security guard that we would see to it that he is returned to Israel. We are already experienced with this," Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu also said that the Israeli Ambassador in Israel Walid Obeidat came to the Foreign Minister on Monday morning for talks. "We are also carrying out contacts through a variety of other channels with one aim – putting an end to the incident, bringing our people to Israel, and we are doing so with determination and responsibly," Netanyahu said.
Senior Jordanian officials told the Jordan's Al-Rai newspaper that Jordanian police is still demanding to interrogate the guard. The Jordanian officials said that the kingdom will escalate the diplomatic measures if Israel refuses to hand over the guard.
Israel is refusing to allow the questioning of the guard, who is currently in the embassy compound, saying he has immunity.
On Sunday evening, following an emergency meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, it was decided to immediately evacuate all the staff of the Israeli embassy in Amman for fear that the incident would lead to riots and attempts to attack the embassy. However, the Jordanian authorities have refused to allow the security guard to leave the country and have demanded an investigation.
Israel says that the guard has diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention. The dispute over a possible investigation has led to the delay in the evacuation of the Israeli diplomatic team in Amman.
The guard at the Israeli Embassy in Amman was stabbed on Sunday by a Jordanian carpenter who was installing furniture in his apartment near the embassy compound. The guard, who was lightly wounded in the incident, shot and killed the attacker. His landlord, who was also present during the incident, was also wounded during the incident and later died of his wounds.
The unusual incident began when a team of carpenters came to install furniture in one of the apartments where the Israeli security guards live, near the Amman embassy compound. One of the workers crept behind the officer and began to stab him with a screwdriver - at which point the officer jumped back, cocked his weapon and fired. He was lightly wounded in the jump.
The guard arrived at the embassy immediately following the incident. A Foreign Ministry official noted that he is an accredited diplomat, immune from interrogation and arrest under the Vienna Convention.
A large contingent of Jordanian security forces arrived following the shooting, blocked all access routes to the area and launched an investigation. The background to the incident is still not clear, and the Jordanian General Security Administration issued a statement saying the circumstances surrounding the incident were still being investigated. The statement did not say that a Jordanian carpenter had attacked an Israeli.
Minutes after the incident, the Amman embassy and Foreign Ministry headquarters in Jerusalem declared a state of emergency. “The last thing we needed was a rerun of the attack on the embassy in Cairo,” said a senior Foreign Ministry official, referring to the September 2011 storming of the embassy in Egypt by hundreds of protesters.