Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Israel

Newsline: Jordan Holds Firm On Refusal To Reopen Israeli Embassy

Jordan will not allow the reopening of the Israeli embassy in Amman or the return of Israel’s ambassador unless the Israeli security guard involved in the killing of two Jordanians in July is brought to trial, a Jordanian government minister said Thursday. Jordanian Media Affairs Minister Mohammed Momani issued a press release to this effect, in which he added that Jordan’s position on the issue was very firm. Saleh al-Armouti, a Jordanian member of Parliament, told The Media Line that Israeli ambassador Einat Schlein is unwelcome in Amman because she “accompanied the murderer,” security guard Ziv Moyal, back to Israel. The appropriate response to the entire incident, according to al-Armouti, would be for Jordan to “close the embassy and cut ties with Israel for good. “The security guard doesn’t have diplomatic immunity,” said al-Armouti. On July 23 Moyal was reportedly attacked with a screwdriver by teenager Mohammed Jawawdeh, who had been delivering furniture to Moyal’s landlord. Moyal then opened fire, killing Jawawdeh along with the building’s owner. The incident prompted widespread condemnation from Jordanian citizens, who held mass demonstrations including outside the Israeli embassy, where protesters chanted “Death to Israel.” Moyal and Israeli embassy staff were allowed to return to Israel a day after the incident following diplomatic pressure from the Israeli government and the US. A subsequent investigation by Israel’s Shin Bet concluded that Moyal acted in self-defense and thus there were no grounds to prosecute him.



Newsline: South Africa mulls downgrading its embassy in Israel

If South Africa downgrades its embassy in Israel, the important trade, tourism, scientific and technological ties between the two countries would most likely be undermined while doing nothing to advance the cause of Palestinian statehood, according to a panel discussion held on the subject in Johannesburg. The discussion followed calls in July by South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, for the downgrade of the South African Embassy in Israel to a “liaison office,” saying it was “concerned by the lack of commitment from Israel to finding a resolution to the Palestinian question.” The issue will be discussed and decided upon at the party’s National Policy Conference next month.


Newsline: Israel reportedly threatens to shelve Jordan water deal until embassy reopened

Israel has reportedly told Jordan that a joint agreement for the construction of a pipeline transferring water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea will not go ahead until Israel is allowed to reopen its embassy in Amman. In an escalating war of words and threats, senior officials in Jerusalem told Channel 10 that Israel notified Jordan that the water project will not move forward until Ambassador Einat Schlein and her staff are permitted to return to their posts. Two weeks ago Jordan said it would not allow the embassy to reopen until an embassy guard who shot dead two Jordanian nationals was brought to trial. The incident has put a damper on the so-called Red-Dead project. Several weeks ago Israel and Jordan were to have finalized the details before calling for tenders from international companies to do the work. Without an embassy, the Jordanians reportedly wanted to continue the discussions by phone, but Israel has insisted on face to face meetings, which won’t happen until the embassy is reopened. That message was reportedly conveyed to Jordan several weeks ago. In response, Jordan has reportedly threatened to continue with the project alone. Several articles in Jordanian media have cited officials saying that they do not need Israel for the pipeline, and even raising the possibility of bringing in Saudi Arabia to partner with them instead. The $10 billion project, which some see as an early stage in a regional peace deal, would see the construction of a 220-kilometer (137-mile) pipeline transferring water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea — the lowest body of water on earth — to benefit Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians, and replenish the dwindling Dead Sea.


Newsline: Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer questioned in Netanyahu probe

Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, was questioned by Israeli authorities in relation to Case 1000, Channel 2 reported. Dermer was questioned about working on behalf of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to secure a visa for businessman and movie mogul Arnon Milchan. Case 1000 focuses on gifts — champagne, cigars, jets and hotels — valued at nearly $200,000 that the Netanyahu family received from Milchen and Australian casino giant James Packer. The investigation regards allegations that Netanyahu and his wife Sara accepted illegal gifts of cigars, champagne and jewelry worth tens of thousands of shekels from Milchan. While he is not a suspect in the case, Netanyahu’s son, Yair, gave testimony in January concerning suspicions that Australian billionaire James Packer gave him lavish gifts in a bid to influence his father. Dermer is under questioning for intervening on behalf of Netanyahu and requesting a visa for Milchan from former United States Secretary of State John Kerry. Milchan currently lives in Los Angeles. The movie producer has been questioned multiple times about the case, most recently in London in September. Milchan is a well-known Hollywood producer, serving as a producer on Academy Award-winning films Birdman, The Revenant and The Big Short. He founded the Hollywood-based entertainment company Regency Enterprises in 1991.


Newsline: Jordan says Israel embassy can only reopen once security guard is tried

Jordan has said it refuses to allow the return of the Israeli diplomatic mission to Amman unless the Israeli Ambassador Einat Schlein is replaced, Israel’s Channel 2 reported. The Kingdom also wants the security guard who killed two Jordanians to be brought to justice. In late July, the Israeli embassy guard, a Shin Bet agent, left for Israel after shooting a Jordanian man and a 17-year-old carpenter who was installing furniture at an Israeli embassy block. The victims were later identified as Mohamed Al-Jawawdeh, a Palestinian Muslim who was a refugee in Jordan, and a Jordanian Christian doctor, Bashar Hamarneh. The channel said that Jordan has officially informed the Israeli Foreign Ministry that it does not want Schlein to return to the embassy in Amman. The Israeli diplomatic mission left the Jordanian capital in the aftermath of the attack. A spokesman of the Jordanian government, Mohammed Momani, said that the embassy will not open until Israel complies with international law. Israel had said that the security guard had acted in self-defence and therefore would not stand trial.


Newsline: Calls to expel Iran diplomat from NZ after fiery anti-Israel speech

An Iranian diplomat has been accused of fuelling radicalism with a fiery, anti-Israel speech at an Auckland mosque. Jewish community leaders want Hormoz Ghahremani, first secretary of the Iranian Embassy, to be expelled after he appeared alongside speakers who denied the Holocaust and called for the “surgical removal” of Israel. In his speech, Ghahremani said Israel was trying to “deceive the world” by pretending to be an advocate of peace when in fact it was fuelling terrorism and extremism in the Middle East to divert attention from the Palestine issue. Members of the Jewish community say it’s outrageous that the representative of a foreign Government should make such comments. The speech was in June but has only just come to light. Juliet Moses, a spokeswoman for the Jewish Council, said the fact an Iran Government representative was making such inflammatory statements was concerning. Moses said she hoped the Government would investigate and take action against Ghahremani. “Expulsion might be an option.”


Newsline: Fatal embassy shooting casts long shadow over Israel-Jordan ties

The relationship — typically low-key, but strategically important — has been “hit hard” on all levels by the July 23 shooting, next to the Israeli Embassy complex in Jordan in which the Israeli guard also killed his middle-aged Jordanian landlord. Israel’s Foreign Ministry, which says the guard acted in self-defense after the teen attacked him with a screw driver, declined comment on potential damage to the relationship. A multi-million-dollar energy deal remains on track, with natural gas to start flowing from Israel to Jordan by early 2020. But other endeavors have suffered. The third phase of a program to employ Jordanians in Israeli hotels — which would have raised the number of workers from 1,000 to 1,500 — is on hold, said Shabtai Shay, head of hotel association in Israel’s Red Sea resort of Eilat. A conference on water and energy cooperation, scheduled for October in Jordan with the participation of Cabinet ministers from both countries, has been put off. A sustained breakdown in communications on sharing water and energy sources, a national security interest for both countries, could have “terrible implications.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been assigned much of the blame for the diplomatic crisis, because of his handling of the shooting aftermath.