Diplomatic Standoff Ends as Israeli Embassy Staff Released from Jordan
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JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli staff members to the country's embassy in Jordan are safely home after a diplomatic standoff.
Prime Minister Bejnamin Netanyahu's office announced the return of the employees, including a security guard involved in the deadly shooting at the embassy on Sunday evening.
After being attacked with a screw driver, the guard shot and killed two Jordanian men.
Details about the incident in Jordan have been sketchy, but the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs released the following statement:
"An Israeli security officer at the embassy in Amman was stabbed by a Jordanian worker who had entered the embassy compound for routine furniture replacement. The security officer, the Jordanian landlord and two Jordanian workers were present. One of the workers attacked the Israeli security official from the rear and began stabbing him with a screwdriver. The security official, who was slightly wounded, defended himself. During the incident, the Jordanian worker was killed, but the landlord was injured as well. He later died of his wounds."
Israel reportedly tried to evacuate its diplomatic staff following the attack but was prevented from doing so by the Jordanians, who wanted to question the guard.
The Foreign Ministry argued the security officer has diplomatic immunity from "investigation and imprisonment," according to the Vienna Convention.
A phone call between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and King Abdallah of Israel resolved the crisis.
The attack followed violent demonstrations on Friday at the embassy in Amman.
Dr. Oded Eran, former Israeli ambassador to Jordan, said security measures at the embassy in Amman would be stepped up, but Jordan would also need to take steps.
"I'm sure the Jordanian government has to tone down its statements on the issue of Jerusalem generally and on the events on the Temple Mount," Eran said.
The attack, carried out by a Jordanian teenager who reportedly is of Palestinian origin, was the latest in ongoing violence connected to the controversy over new security measures on the Temple Mount that have swept Jerusalem, the Palestinian areas and Jordan. (About 70 percent of Jordanians have Palestinian origins, including Jordan's Queen Rania.)
Israel implemented the Temple Mount security measures following a terror attack 11 days ago, in which three Israeli Arabs attacked and killed two border policemen with weapons that had been hidden on the Temple Mount.
Jordan's King Abdullah II initially condemned the Temple Mount terror attack but the Jordanian parliament later praised the attack and prayed for the attackers.
In 1994, Jordan became the second Middle Eastern country to sign a peace accord with Israel. The Jordan Valley, between Jordan and the Israeli-controlled area of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) is generally peaceful.
The Wakf Jordanian religious authorities were left in charge of religious affairs on the Temple Mount following the 1967 Six-Day War.
Following repeated clashes on the Temple Mount in late 2015 and the beginning of 2016, Jordan said it would install security cameras on the Temple Mount to "expose Israeli assaults and violations."
A month later, Jordan backed down in the face of Palestinian protests that claimed Israel would use the cameras to identify Muslims opposed to Jewish visits on the Temple Mount.
Eran said Israeli-Jordanian relations behind the scenes reveal good cooperation, particularly in the areas of security and water. But publicly there's a "tension and unnecessary noises," he said in a conference call with the media.
"There is a need to somehow match the [Israel-Jordan] relations behind the scenes with these that are open and clear to the public," Eran said.
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