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Jordan's King Abdullah II slams Netanyahu over embassy killings

Jordan's Abdullah II has demanded a trial against the security guard who had killed two Jordanians within the Israeli embassy in Amman. The monarch also accused Netanyahu of treating the case as a "political show."

People in Jordan were "infuriated" by Israel's response to the double killing, Jordanian King Abdullah II said on Thursday.

Tensions between the two countries have been running at the fever pitch since Sunday evening, when an Israeli security guard shot and killed two Jordanians in an apartment on embassy grounds. One of them was a teenage worker who was in the building to install furniture. Israeli officials claim that the teenager attacked the guard with a screwdriver, causing the embassy employee to open fire. The other victim was reportedly killed by accident.

With the guard protected by diplomatic immunity, Israel was able to repatriate him on Monday. He and the Israeli ambassador were then warmly welcomed by Israel's right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said he was "happy" to see the staffer back in his homeland.

"You acted well, calmly, and we also had an obligation to get you out,” Netanyahu told the guard after embracing him.

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Israel steps back in Jerusalem

Commenting on Netanyahu's reaction, King Abdullah said his behavior was "unacceptable and provocative."

"We demand that the Israeli Prime Minister abides by his commitment and takes all measures to ensure the trial of the killer and not to handle this like a political show to achieve personal political gains," the Jordanian monarch said.

Jordan, in addition to Egypt, is one of two Arab states to sign a peace treaty with Israel. The neighboring countries are also involved in the current Jerusalem crisis involving the al-Aqsa Mosque, as the kingdom manages the Muslim holy sites in the territory controlled by Israel. In the days after the Amman shooting, Israeli authorities dismantled their controversial security measures at the Jerusalem site, leading observers to speculate that the speedy return of the Israeli guard and the subsequent concession by Israel were part of diplomatic horse-trading.

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Trouble in Jordan

Many Jordanians criticized the government for what they perceived to be a weak response to the killing. The affair also invoked memories of a border shooting in 2014, when an Israeli security guard killed a Jordanian judge.

On Thursday, Jordanian media reported that the kingdom might ban the Israeli ambassador from returning to Amman if the dispute is not resolved. While the king's statement did not refer to specific diplomatic measures, Abdullah said that Israeli's response would have consequences.

"The way Israel handles the embassy case and the judge's killing and other cases will have a direct impact on the nature of our relationship," he told the official news agency Petra. "A staff member of the Israeli embassy fired at two of our citizens. We will devote all the efforts and tools of the Jordanian state to obtain their rights and fulfil justice."

dj/msh (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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