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Jordan’s king asks Netanyahu to remove metal detectors from Temple Mount

King Abdullah and PM Netanyahu speak by phone amid efforts to reach an agreement that would end both Temple Mount standoff and crisis at the Israeli embassy in Amman.

Jordan’s King Abdullah asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a phone call Monday to remove the metal detectors at entrances to the Temple Mount, according to Jordan’s state news agency Petra.

Abdullah “stressed the need to find an immediate solution and remove the causes of the ongoing crisis in Al-Haram Al-Sharif, ensure the return of the situation to what it was before the outbreak, and ensure the full opening of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

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The Jordanian king and Israeli prime minister also spoke about the diplomatic crisis at the Israeli embassy in Amman.

A 17-year-old Jordanian wielding a screwdriver attacked a security guard from the Israeli Embassy in Amman on Sunday. The guard shot and killed the assailant, while the owner of the building, a Jordanian doctor, was struck by a stray bullet and killed as well.

Jordanian security forces who arrived at the scene surrounded the embassy building in order to launch an investigation into the incident and sought to question the security guard.

Israel informed Jordan that according to the Vienna Convention, the security officer is immune from all criminal charges and civil suits in Jordan, and he will not be subject to arrest or interrogation.

The guard suffered only superficial injuries in the attack and was treated at the embassy by a trained medic. While he needs further treatment at a hospital, he was not taken to one because of the circumstances of the incident.

While the Jordanians agreed to allow the rest of the diplomatic staff to leave the embassy, they insisted the guard remains for questioning. The diplomatic staff refused to leave without the guard, leaving some 30 of them on lockdown in the embassy compound.

Shin Bet Director Nadav Argaman flew to the Jordanian capital on Monday morning to investigate the incident and speak to the guard. Argaman, accompanied by Jordanian investigators, conducted a reconstruction of events. He then returned in the late afternoon to brief the prime minister.

Netanyahu held consultations with other Israeli defense chiefs on the matter on Monday afternoon ahead of a Security Cabinet meeting about the situation.

“There’s desire from both countries to solve this crisis,” a senior Israeli official said.

It appears the guard will be allowed home after an agreement between Amman and Jerusalem receives a royal approval. A Jordanian official said as part of the talks between Amman and Jerusalem, Israel has made promises concerning the removal of metal detectors from the Temple Mount amid the ongoing crisis.

But the Prime Minister’s Office denied there was a Jordanian demand to condition the return of the guard to Israel in the removal of the metal detectors on the Temple Mount.

Speaking in front of the UN Security Council on Monday, Israel’s Ambassador Danny Danon said he believes the crisis be resolved soon.

He also spoke of the terror attack in Halamish, which claimed the lives of three Israelis, saying, “The Palestinians are spreading lies, saying these acts of violence are Israel’s fault.”

To prevent further escalation of the situation, he said, “simply stop the payments to terrorists and the incitement to terrorism.”

Jordan threatens ‘diplomatic steps’
A Jordanian official told Ammon News the guard will not be allowed to leave the country until the official investigation into the incident is completed.

According to the source, “Diplomatic steps will be taken if Israel continues with its position that the guard not be questioned under the Vienna Convention.”

A Jordanian official in Amman said, “Jordan is aware of the treaty (Vienna Convention) and all options are open.”

The same official also added that Jordan is continuing to be in contact with the Israeli side and according to him, Israel has two options: Either agree for the guard to be questioned as part of the official investigation or refuse—in which case, “all things (will be handled) in due time.”

Two additional Jordanian officials told Jordanian newspaper Al Ghad that Jordan will take diplomatic steps against Israel if the guard is not turned over to Jordanian authorities for questioning. The officials also stated that the guard is not allowed to leave the Israeli embassy in Amman due to the killing of the two Jordanians.

Netanyahu spoke with the Israeli embassy guard and assured him that he will be returned to Israel safely.

“I spoke twice overnight with Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Einat Shalin and with the security guard. I gained the impression that she is managing matters there very well. I assured the security guard that we will see to bringing him back to Israel; we have experience in this,” Netanyahu said ahead of his meeting with Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili.

“I told both of them that we are holding ongoing contacts with security and government officials in Amman, on all levels, in order to bring the incident to a close as quickly as possible,” Netanyahu went on to say.

“The Jordanian Ambassador to Israel arrived at the Foreign Ministry this morning and was asked to assist on the matter. We are also holding contacts on various other channels with one objective – to bring the incident to a close and to bring our people to Israel. And we are doing this determinedly and responsibly,” the prime minister concluded.

Initial investigations into the attack show that 17-year-old Mohammed Zawawdeh stabbed the security guard twice with a screwdriver, once in the chest and once in the back.

According to a senior Israeli official, “We have no doubt that the young Jordanian was a terrorist who came to murder an Israeli. They (the Jordanians) also know full well that he is a terrorist, but they’re taking advantage of the Temple Mount crisis.”

By Roi Kais, Itamar Eichner, Ynet News



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