Jordanian families of embassy shooting victims welcome Israeli climbdown

Mourners attend the funeral of Mohammed Jawawdeh, who was killed by an Israeli security guard at the Israeli Embassy compound in Amman. (AFP/file)
Updated 20 January 2018
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Jordanian families of embassy shooting victims welcome Israeli climbdown

AMMAN: Family members of two Jordanians killed at the Israeli Embassy in Amman last year have welcomed the success of Jordan’s diplomatic efforts in extracting an apology and compensation from Israel.
Legal experts and political leaders also praised the government for not backing down over the shooting, which plunged relations between Jordan and Israel to their worst in years.
But among the warm words were acknowledgements that the current regional situation had played its part in Israel’s climb down, with the US keen to see two of its key allies improve relations.
In a letter to the Jordanian Foreign Ministry Israel also agreed to investigate the shooting, which took place in July. The letter offered a “deep apology and regret” from the Israeli government, government spokesman Mohammad Momani said on Thursday.
Anis F. Kassim, the editor of the Palestinian Yearbook of International Law, told Arab News that the letter had addressed “the three demands of Jordan.”
“Jordan had demanded that Israel seriously investigates the embassy guard, that Israel apologizes for the killing and that compensation be made to the victims,” Kassim, who said he had seen the details of the letter, said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed Israel had “expressed regret” and had agreed to pay compensation to the government of Jordan.
Kassim said that it is normal in such international cases that the compensation is paid to the government representing its citizens and not directly to the families.
Khalil Attiyeh, deputy head of the Jordanian Parliament, told Arab News that the Israelis folded under pressure.
“The pressure from the King backed by the popular demands of our people forced the Zionists to accept the need to abide by international law and respect the wishes of the Jordanian people,” Attiyeh said.
“This is a victory for Jordan and for King Abdullah.”
Relatives also said they were pleased with the outcome.
The daughter of Dr. Bashar Hamarneh, a landlord of a house at the embassy compound who was killed in the shooting, thanked King Abdullah for securing the Israeli concession.
“We thank our Jordanian people for standing with us in this difficult case,” she told Al-Rai newspaper.
Other family victims appeared on Jordanian television with similar sentiments in their messages.
However, Muneer Hamarneh, another relative of the killed doctor and a left-wing political activist, said US President Donald Trump’s recognition last month of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, had played a part in Israel’s apology. The decision outraged Palestinians, who want Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, and angered Arab countries, particularly Jordan, which has a huge Palestinian population and which oversees the city’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
“Since the Jerusalem announcement by the US, there has been an attempt to rectify the situation by way of mending some of the problems it has caused, especially the growing chasm between Jordan and Israel over the embassy incident,” Hamarneh told Arab News.
In the letter, Israel expressed its desire to renew relations with Jordan and Momani said the Jordanian government will take the appropriate steps in “the higher interests” of Jordan.
The shooting at the embassy also killed Mohammad Jawwadeh, a furniture repairer who was working at the compound.
The men were killed in July when an Israeli security guard at opened fire at Jawwadeh.
Jordan allowed the security guard and the embassy staff to leave Jordan because of diplomatic immunity and has not allowed them to return until Israeli met its demands.
The Israeli security guard claimed that the furniture repairman tried to stab him with a screwdriver and that the house landlord was killed by accident.
Israel also said it would compensate the family of Raed Zuietar, a Jordanian judge killed at the King Hussein bridge in March 2014.


Russia ‘trying to help Syrian refugees to return home’

Russian soldiers distribute aid in the central Syrian province of Homs. (File/AFP)
Updated 17 August 2018
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Russia ‘trying to help Syrian refugees to return home’

  • A buffer zone separates Syria to the east, from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to the west
  • The Russian military police have set up four observation points along the demarcation line on the Syrian side of the buffer zone

MOSCOW: The Russian Defense Ministry said it was coordinating efforts to help Syrian refugees return home and rebuild the country’s infrastructure destroyed by the civil war.
Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said in a conference call that included Russian and Syrian officials that work is underway to rebuild dozens of Syria’s power stations, schools and other vital institutions.
In Damascus, Syrian Public Administration Minister Hussein Makhlouf pledged the regime would protect refugee property rights and grant returning refugees a year’s deferral from military conscription.
“The Syrian government is working to simplify procedures for refugees who return, repair housing and try to create new jobs,” Makhlouf said, adding that the authorities were also working to streamline legislation to facilitate refugee returns.
He dismissed as hostile “propaganda” claims that some refugees were facing arrests on their return.
Makhlouf called on Western nations to drop their sanctions against Damascus, introduced early in the seven-year conflict, in order to help post-war restoration and encourage the return of the refugees.
Mizintsev said that over 1.2 million of internally displaced Syrians and about 300,000 refugees have returned in the past two and a half years.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin might take part in a summit with the leaders of Turkey and Iran at the beginning of September.
The three leaders met in April at a summit in Ankara where they discussed developments in Syria.
With help from its Russian ally, President Bashar Assad’s regime has expelled fighters from large parts of Syria’s south since June.
Israel has repeatedly pledged to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence along its border. A series of airstrikes that killed Iranians inside Syria have been attributed to Israel.
A buffer zone separates Syria to the east, from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to the west.
The Russian army’s Lt.-Gen. Sergei Kuralenko told reporters on an organized press tour this week how “stability” had returned to the buffer zone.
Apart from “a few problems with Daesh” in its southern tip, the demilitarized zone was “entirely under control of Syrian military police,” Kuralenko said.
“Everything is ready” for the return of UN troops, he said, after the peacekeepers were forced to withdraw in 2014.
After retaking most of the two southern provinces adjacent to the buffer zone, regime forces last month raised their flag inside, above the key border crossing of Quneitra.
The Russian military police have set up four observation points along the demarcation line on the Syrian side of the buffer zone, Kuralenko said, and plan to set up four more in the near future.
They are “willing to hand them over to the UN if it says it is ready to ensure the monitoring of the Golan alone,” he said.