Jordan has accepted Israel’s choice of its new ambassador yesterday, indicating a repair of relations after an almost year-long standoff between the two states.
The new Israeli ambassador to Jordan, Amir Weissbrod, a fluent and highly proficient speaker of Arabic, will replace Einat Schlein who held the post until July last year.
Relations broke down last summer when an Israeli embassy guard shot two Jordanian citizens, teenager Mohamed Al-Jawawdeh and Bashar Hamarneh, claiming that it was in self-defence as one of them attacked him with a screwdriver. The Israeli was wounded and the two Jordanians were killed, as a result the Jordanian government demanded Schlein leave the country.
Before the Israeli guard fled to Israel following the incident, Israel immediately put him under the protection of diplomatic immunity in order to prevent the Jordanian authorities from interrogating him or taking legal action. To make matters worse, the guard received a hero’s welcome on his return to Israel, being embraced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the scene being televised.
In a rare outburst from the Hashemite monarch, King Abdullah of Jordan slammed Netanyahu for exhibiting “political showmanship” instead of serving justice. As a consequence, the Israeli embassy in Amman was closed down and all diplomatic staff were expelled, with Jordan saying it would not allow the reopening of the embassy until Israel had launched legal proceedings against the guard.
In January, months after the shooting took place, Israel finally agreed to formally apologise and compensate for the killings, with the victims’ families having received $5 million in compensation overall. The guard who killed them, however, was not prosecuted by Israel.
The Israeli embassy gradually reopened in February but is now set to function fully with its new ambassador. The Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed Momani said today that Weissbrod “can start his mission any time now”.