With the Israeli-induced crisis over the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem this past week it may have been easy to miss a deadly incident that took place in Amman, the Jordanian capital.
A member of Israel’s secret police force, the Shin Bet, shot dead two Jordanians in an apartment in the compound of the Israeli embassy. He was soon whisked out of the country, away from the Jordanian police and their questions.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later had the pure arrogance to post on social media photos of himself warmly embracing the killer, after he had absconded from the country.
According to the account of Jordanian authorities, the “Israeli diplomat” took issue with 17-year-old Mohammed Jawawdeh, a carpenter who he had hired. He had supposedly not finished the agreed bedroom construction work on time.
There was an “altercation” which escalated, ultimately resulting in the killing of Jawawdeh and of the building’s landlord Bashar Hamarneh, at the hands of the unnamed Israeli spy.
According to Israeli claims the killings happened because Jawawdeh, a Palestinian motivated by events in Jerusalem, attacked the Shin Bet agent with a screwdriver.
A large number of Jordanian citizens are Palestinian refugees – as many as 60 per cent, according to some estimates. The Jordanian regime is an oppressive dictatorship, which has been in hock to Western imperialism ever since the state was founded as a puppet entity of the British Empire.
Nonetheless, the king has little choice but to take the Palestinian factor into his calculations.
The 1994 peace deal that Jordan signed with Israel is widely rejected by the population of Jordan, just as the unjust peace deal the Egyptian dictatorship signed with Israel is rejected by most Egyptians. The Israeli embassies in both countries are virtually fortresses.
At points in its history the Jordanian regime has been a positive booster to Israeli aims. The 1970-71 anti-Palestinian civil war in the kingdom, known as Black September, is a case in point. In the 1967 Israeli war against the Palestinians, Jordan and other surrounding Arab countries the Jordanian army did not fight at all, its soldiers simply took off their uniforms and ran away. The laughable Israeli talk of the miracle of 1967 is self-mythologising nonsense.
But at other times Israeli arrogance has strained Jordanian-Israeli relations to near breaking point. The clearest case of this was the failed 1997 Israeli assassination attempt on Hamas leader Khald Meshaal.
Israeli spies infiltrated the country and attacked Meshaal by spraying poison in his ear. But the plot was foiled when Meshaal’s bodyguard chased, overpowered and captured the two attacking Mossad agents.
Hussein, who was king at the time, was livid. Meshaal slipped into a coma and the king ordered that the Israeli embassy be surrounded with tanks. Netanyahu (who was Israeli prime minister then too) was eventually forced to hand over the antidote. Meshaal made a full recovery and led Hamas until quite recently when he stepped aside and made way for a new leader.
The Israeli attack on Meshaal was in blatant violation of the peace treaty with Jordan.
With the current popular Palestinian uprising in Jerusalem, King Abdullah (Hussein’s son) is treading on dangerous ground. Palestinians have been engaging in civil disobedience against new Israeli restrictions on freedom of worship at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
The site is one of the most holy in Islam, but it is also of immense national significance. With Palestinian institutions in their capital Jerusalem systematically destroyed, banned and removed over the years by Israel, Haram Al-Sharif is the last institution of Palestinian national life left standing in the capital. Palestinians – Muslim and Christian – will never give it up willingly.
Israel claims the new restrictions (which they have now been forced by a sustained and powerful campaign of Palestinian civilian resistance to reverse) were intended to prevent acts of Palestinian armed resistance, such as a shooting that recently took place against armed Israeli occupation forces in the capital.
But this is a red herring and a lie. The entirely violent, vicious and brutal response to the massed ranks of Palestinians simply praying in the streets of Jerusalem shows that Israel does not want an end to violence, it wants Palestinian subservience.
This will not happen. Palestinians will continue to resist by all means until they get their full rights.
With all this kicking off in Jerusalem, therefore, the Jordanian regime had to tread carefully, lest it trigger anger at home. Israeli embassy staff, including the Shin Bet killer, were allowed to evacuate but only after the humiliating Israeli climb down on the metal detectors and cameras.
Israeli killers should not be permitted to summarily execute people at will like this. The Jordanian regime should break all relations with Israel, and demand the killer be extradited.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.