Israel won’t prosecute embassy guard over Jordan shootings: sources

Security forces stand guard outside the Israeli embassy in the residential Rabiyeh neighbourhood of the Jordanian capital Amman following an 'incident'. (AFP)
Updated 21 January 2018
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Israel won’t prosecute embassy guard over Jordan shootings: sources

JERUSALEM: Israel will not prosecute a guard from its embassy in Amman who killed two Jordanians in July, as had long been demanded by the kingdom, two Israeli sources said on Sunday.
Instead, the Foreign Ministry and Shin Bet security agency will review protocols surrounding the actions taken by the guard, and his conduct, “and share the results with the Jordanians,” a diplomatic source said.
The killings led to a rift between the countries, which both said last week had been mended.
Jordan said Israel had apologized for the embassy deaths, would compensate the victims’ next of kin and “implement and follow up legal measures” in the case.
Jordanian officials were not immediately available to comment on the diplomatic source’s account. Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman declined comment.
Amman had previously demanded a homicide trial for the guard, whose repatriation under diplomatic immunity and hero’s welcome by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu angered Jordanians.
Israel said in the aftermath of the incident that the guard had acted in self-defense, shooting a workman who stabbed and wounded him lightly, and that the second Jordanian was killed by stray fire.
Asked on Sunday whether criminal prosecution of the guard was possible, a second Israeli official told Reuters on condition of anonymity: “No way.”
The guard’s prospects of remaining in the Israeli secret service may be in doubt, however, after a Jordanian newspaper published his name and photograph.
Other fine-print elements of the reconciliation deal were designed to limit legal culpability for Israel, the diplomatic source said.
Israel would not pay damages to the next of kin directly, but instead provide a $5 million lump sum for the Jordanian government to disburse as compensation, that source said. The money is also meant to cover the needs of the family of a Jordanian shot dead by an Israeli border guard in 2014.
Two sources close to the families confirmed the payout sum.
The Israeli diplomatic source said the Netanyahu government had not apologized for the shooting of the alleged assailant but rather “voiced regret.”
On Thursday, a Jordanian government spokesman said Israel had sent a memorandum stating its “deep regrets and apologies.”
Yet Israel distinguishes between the two expressions of contrition, seeing in the latter a potential admission of guilt.
A deal reconciling Israel and Turkey over the killing of 10 pro-Palestinian Turks who tried to breach the Gaza blockade in 2010 included Israel voicing regret and paying $20 million into a Turkish fund that compensated the bereaved and injured.
In return, Ankara agreed not to seek the criminal prosecution of Israeli marines who raided the activists’ ship.
Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.
Three years later, during Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister, relations were strained when Israeli secret agents were caught spraying poison into the ear of Palestinian Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal on an Amman street.
The assassination team was repatriated in return for an antidote for Meshaal and the release of Hamas’s spiritual leader, Ahmed Yassin, from an Israeli jail.
On Saturday night in a Twitter posting, Netanyahu expressed appreciation for behind-the-scenes efforts by US envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt to help end the crisis with Jordan.


Pay raise not enough for Egypt’s angry civil servants

Updated 25 min 44 sec ago
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Pay raise not enough for Egypt’s angry civil servants

  • The recent austerity measures are part of an economic reform program designed to meet the terms of a three-year $12 billion loan Egypt secured from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in late 2016
  • Gasoline prices have risen by an average of about 34 percent

CAIRO: Egyptian civil servants have warned the government that increases in their salaries will not help them avoid the devastating impact of tough new austerity measures.
Earlier this month the national Parliament approved a draft law giving state employees a 7 percent raise in their basic earnings and an additional irregular bonus of 10 percent.
But while civil servants welcomed the increases, they told Arab News that huge rises in the prices of essential commodities including fuel, electricity, piped drinking water and public transport will still leave them struggling to make ends meet.
One 45-year-old who works at a government notary office in Cairo and requested anonymity said, “It’s better than nothing but definitely still not enough. It can help alleviate the effects of just one item out of the many items of which the state has decided to increase the cost.
“For example, I can now bear the additional costs of drinking water but what about electricity, what about transportation, what about everything else?”
The recent austerity measures are part of an economic reform program designed to meet the terms of a three-year $12 billion loan Egypt secured from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in late 2016.
In recent weeks, the authorities have increased metro fares by up to 250 percent and the price of cooking gas from 60 Egyptian pounds to 100 Egyptian pounds ($3.3 to $5.6) per cylinder. The cost of piped drinking water has risen by up to 45 percent and electricity by 26 percent. Gasoline prices have risen by an average of about 34 percent.
Abdel-Rahman, a government employee who refused to give his full name, told Arab news: “I earn 1,200 pounds and I have three children. The salary increases they usually announce every year barely make any difference.
“My salary needs to be at least doubled if I’m to survive such dire economic conditions. Life has become too hard and the few pounds they throw at us every year are almost useless.”
Egypt is not the only Middle Eastern country to face a public backlash over a tough austerity program. In January, demonstrations erupted across Tunisia after the IMF told the government there that it needed to take “urgent action” to reduce its deficit.
Earlier this month protesters in Jordan forced the Prime Minister Hani Mulki to resign and King Abdullah to roll back a fuel-price increase in an attempt to quell some of the worst civil unrest the country has seen in years.