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Israel sends ambassador to Amman, nine months after embassy shootings

An Israeli guard's killing of two Jordanian citizens in July 2017 had sparked tensions amidst Al-Aqsa crisis
Security forces stood guard outside the Israeli embassy in the Jordanian capital Amman following in July after a deadly argument between an Israeli guard and a Jordanian carpenter (AFP)

Israel has reinstated an ambassador to Jordan, nine months after an embassy security guard killed two Jordanians and sparked a diplomatic spat between the neighbouring countries.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on social media on Monday that ambassador Amir Weissbrod had arrived in Jordan to begin his assignment.

Weissbrod, who has previously worked at the Amman embassy between 2001 and 2004, is replacing his predecessor Einat Schlein, who left Jordan hastily in July after an Israeli security guard shot and killed two Jordanians citizens at the Israeli embassy residential complex.

A Jordanian investigation stated that the killings occurred as part of a personal dispute between Ziv Moyal, the Israeli guard, and 17-year-old Jordanian carpenter Mohammed al-Jawawdeh, during which Jawawdeh stabbed Moyal with a screwdriver and Moyal shot at the teen. Landlord Bashar Hamarna was accidentally shot and killed in the altercation.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Shin Bet said that Moyal was targeted by Jawawdeh upon the latter learning that he was Israeli, calling the incident a “terrorist attack” in which the guard allegedly acted in self-defence.

The incident came at a particularly sensitive time, amid a crisis at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in annexed East Jerusalem, a holy site under Jordanian custodianship.

It began when Israeli authorities installed metal detectors at the entrances of the site after a deadly shooting, sparking uproar over what was widely perceived by Palestinians as an Israeli attempt to gain further control of the site.

While Amman initially insisted that Moyal be tried in a Jordanian court, the security guard and the rest of the Israeli embassy staff left for Israel a day after the shooting.

Shortly afterwards, Israeli forces removed the metal detectors at Al-Aqsa - in what was perceived at the time as a quid pro quo agreement between the two countries, despite Israeli denials.

However, Jordanian officials had stated in November that the Israeli embassy in Amman would not be reopened so long as Moyal did not face prosecution.

But in January, Israel offered a formal apology for the death of the two Jordanians, as well as for the killing of a Jordanian judge by Israeli soldiers in 2014, and pledged to compensate the victims' families - setting the two countries’ diplomatic relations back on track.

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