Photo Credit: Maoz Vaystooch / TPS
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Jordanian authorities have asked Israel to delay the return of diplomatic staff to the Hashemite Kingdom, the Kan Israel Broadcast Corporation reported Sunday.

Embassy staff were evacuated on July 24 after a Jordanian delivery man stabbed an embassy security guard, Ziv Moyal, with a screwdriver. Moyal responded by shooting the attacker, 17-year-old Mohammed al-Juoda, who was killed in the exchange. Another Jordanian man was also killed.

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The incident created a diplomatic storm between Jerusalem and Amman and aroused widespread fury in Jordan. Many Jordanians – including members of parliament – accused Moyal of “executing” al-Juoda and called for Moyal to be tried in Jordan and executed.

Jordanian authorities initially blocked Moyal – who had diplomatic immunity from prosecution as a member of the embassy staff – from leaving the country, leading Israel and Jordan to the brink of a major diplomatic crisis.

Amman eventually allowed him to leave following back channel pressure from the international community, especially the United States. U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said the Trump administration “at the highest levels” interceded with Jordan’s King Abdullah II to secure Moyal’s release.

But the move did little to diffuse tensions between the two countries. Both Abdullah and members of the parliament in Amman were further infuriated when Moyal returned to Israel to a hero’s welcome by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Abdullah accused the Israeli prime minister of making political capital out of the incident, while dozens of anti-Israel parliamentarians seized the opportunity provided by the incident to call for the closing of the Israeli embassy.

Jordan says the country complied with its international obligations by allowing Moyal to leave, but called on Israel to investigate the incident and to punish Moyal.

Israel considers the 1994 peace treaty with Jordan a key component of its overall security strategy. However, the pact is widely unpopular on the other side of the border, where anti-Israel sentiment is rife among a majority population whose ancestry originates from Judea and Samaria, areas occupied by Jordan for the 19 years prior to 1967, and where two-thirds of the Palestinian Authority is located today.

As part of the peace agreement, Israel supplies Jordan with 50 million cubic meters of water a year to deal with chronic drought conditions in the Kingdom.

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