Israel Confirms Deal Reached With Jordan, Embassy Will Immediately Resume Full Activity

Jordanian government spokesperson says Israel apologizes for deaths of two Jordanians shot dead by Israeli security guard

Rania Al-Abdullah, Queen of Jordan, and King Abdullah II of Jordan at the West Wing of the White House in Washington, April 5, 2017.
בלומברג

UPDATE: Netanyahu confirms: Israel 'expressed sorrow' to Jordan for nationals killed by guard, to pay compensation

Jordan said Thursday that Israel has formally apologized for the deaths of two of its citizens, who were killed by an Israeli security guard last July in an incident that has soured ties and led to the closure of the Israeli embassy in Amman, state media said. 

The Prime Minister's Office confirmed the report, saying that Israel and Jordan reached an agreement on the embassy killing, as well as the incident in which a Jordanian judge was killed in March 2014. Israel added that its embassy will resume full activity immediately.

To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz

Jordanian government spokesman Mohammad al Momani was quoted by state news agency Petra as saying the Israeli Foreign Ministry had sent a memorandum in which it sent its "deep regrets and apologies."

According to Al Momani, the Israeli government committed in the memorandum to continue the legal proceedings related to the incident and to pay compensation to the families of the two men who were killed, Mohammed Jawawdeh and Dr. Bashar Hamarneh, and also to pay compensation to the family of Judge Raed Zeiter, who was shot to death by an Israeli security guard at the Jordan River crossing in 2014.

Al Momani said that Israel also stressed the importance of its cooperation with Jordan and its desire to end the crisis and to come to an agreement and understanding about these cases.

He underlined that Jordan will take the required steps based on the country's national interest following the Israeli memorandum that addresses all the demands the Jordanian government had made following the incidents in the embassy and the recall of the ambassadors.

According to Al Momani, the Jordanian government had contacted representatives of the three families, who agreed to accept the apology and the compensation.

Speaking to Jordanian television, relatives of those killed said that as far as they were concerned, their rights and demands had been upheld. They expressed thanks to Jordan's King Abdullah for achieving these rights after great efforts made by both the king and the governments. The families stressed that Jordanian public opinion had supported them throughout, which had helped their position and the claim.

The families of both Jawawdeh and Zeiter categorically rejected Israel’s claim after both incidents that their relatives had tried to commit an attack and that they’d been shot in self defense.

Following the shooting, Israel described the fatal incident as a “terrorist attack” and said the armed guard opened fire after being attacked and lightly wounded by a Jordanian workman, who was delivering furniture at his home within the embassy compound, and acted in self-defense.

Israel hastily repatriated the guard under diplomatic immunity to prevent Jordanian authorities from interrogating him and taking any legal action against him.

A televised welcome and hero's embrace by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the guard enraged Jordan's King Abdullah. In a rare outburst, the monarch accused Netanyahu of using the incident as a "political show," saying it was "provocative on all fronts."

The Israeli embassy in Amman was promptly closed and the Israeli ambassador and embassy staff were pulled out. Jordan has said it will not allow the reopening of the embassy until it has launched legal proceedings against the Israeli security guard. 

The handling of the shooting tested ties between Israel and Jordan, one of only two Arab states that has a peace treaty with Israel. The two countries have a long history of close security ties. 

Many Jordanians, in a country where the peace treaty is unpopular and pro-Palestinian sentiment widespread, were outraged the guard was allowed to leave and staged protests calling on the authorities to scrap the 1994 peace treaty. 

Reuters contributed to this report.