Israeli Embassy Staff Return From Jordan Amidst Rising Regional Tensions 1

The Israeli Embassy staff in Jordan have returned home to Israel following the violent incident in Amman on Sunday that resulted in the death of two Jordanian citizens and injury of an Israeli security officer. This event occurred amidst rising tensions and violent outbreaks, which are as a result of long-standing conflicts in the region.

According to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, on the 23rd of July 2017, a Jordanian citizen stabbed an Israeli security officer in an embassy residential building. The Jordanian was in the building to install furniture where he reportedly stabbed the officer with a screwdriver. The officer retaliated and fatally shot his attacker, and a second Jordanian who was hit in the crossfire later died in the hospital. According to a statement given by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “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.”

Jordanian officials initially attempted to prevent the security officer involved in the incident from leaving the country during their investigation, but Israel cited the Vienna Convention in ensuring diplomatic immunity for the officer. After tense negotiations between Amman and Jerusalem, coupled with the fact that both sides want to maintain peaceful diplomacy, the Israeli government issued a statement affirming that the security officer is among those returning to Israel.

The attack occurred during a significant upward shift in tensions in the region. BBC News states, “It is one of the most serious incidents between [Israel and Jordan] since they signed a peace treaty in 1994.” The likely trigger for this event occurred just a couple weeks ago when Israel installed metal detectors outside of the Mosque of al-Aqsa, also known as Mount Temple, in Jerusalem, following the death of two Israeli policemen near the holy site. Subsequently, protests and violence erupted in objection to this action and exacerbated the tense Israeli-Palestinian dynamic, as well as the diplomatic relations between Israel and Jordan.

Meanwhile, according to The Jerusalem Post, there is speculation that the Jordanians allowed the security officer to return to Israel as part of a larger deal that Israel would remove the metal detectors. An announcement was made soon after the embassy staff left Jordan that Israel would remove the metal detectors and utilize alternative security measures at the mosque.

Although conflict in the region has been widespread and prevalent for decades, this past weekend saw numerous incidents of civilian casualties and violent threats related to regional strains. On Friday, a family of three Israelis were killed in their home in the West Bank by a Palestinian man who claimed he was motivated by the installation of the metal detectors. This attack was commended by Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, on Twitter. On another note, the United States and the European Union have declared Hamas a terrorist organization.

Additionally, according to The Washington Post, three Palestinians were killed and four were injured in Jerusalem by Israeli security forces on Friday, which were again over the disputes regarding the Mosque. The United Nations stated that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “deeply deplores” these deaths and reiterates that holy sites are places of worship and peace, not of violence.

With that said, the return of staff from the Israeli embassy in Jordan should mark an opportunity to attain the goal of nonviolent diplomacy. A CNN report states that the international community is becoming involved with the purpose of strategizing to reduce violence. Meanwhile, nations and institutions are putting pressure on all sides to “demonstrate maximum restraint” and “refrain from provocative actions” to make progress towards finding peaceful solutions.

Jenna Rosenthal

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