Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Jordanian government survives motion of no confidence with some help from Israel

The Jordanian king Abdullah II embraces the father of  Judge Raed Zuayter who was killed by the Israelis during a condolence visit to the Zuayter family last Sunday. (Photo Jordan Times)

The Jordanian government on Tuesday survived a no-confidence motion over the way it handled the killing of Raed Zuayter, a judge of Palestinian descend in Amman, who was shot dead by Israeli soldiers last week. 
After a week of lobbying, as the news paper The Jordan Times, called it, a majority of the MPs voted against the motion following a heated session, during which Lower House Speaker Atef Tarawneh at first decided not to hold a vote of no-confidence and afterwards consented to do it after all. Out of the 130 deputies present (of the total of 150) only 29 withheld confidence, while 81 deputies voted against the motion and 20 abstained. 
 After the vote MP Yihya Saud (Amman, 2nd District) announced his resignation “from this weak House”.and outside the parliament minor clashes broke out between security personnel and protesters. The demonstrators raised their shoes to express their rejection of the Lower House’s decision, chanting slogans against the government and prime minister Abdullah Ensour. A number of people were wounded and the police made some arrests. 
Last week, after the Israelis killed the 38-year-old Zuaiter at the King Hussein Bridge crossing that links Jordan with the West Bank, the parliament unanimously voted (in a non binding motion) to expel the Israeli ambassador and to abolish the peace treaty with Israel, signed in 1994. It gave the government a week to act in a proper manner. But prior to the vote prime minister Ensour said in the Lower House that the government had started a joint investigation with Israeli authorities into the incident, which according to him had been one of the demands. Expelling the Israeli ambassador and recalling Jordan’s ambassador from Tel Aviv would jeopardise the case, he said, as it would give the Israelis the pretext to cancel this investigation. Also it might encourage Israelis to expedite unilateral actions in Jerusalem against all Islamic and Christian shrines there, and block “our ambassador’s efforts to help the Jordanian prisoners in Israeli jails”, Ensour noted. 
What helped to prepare the atmosphere for the no confidence motion to fail, was that king Abdullah II paid a condolence visit to the family of Judge Zayter on Sunday, and that  the palace made known that both
Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned the king on Monday to express their “deep regret” over the death of Zuayter. The Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu this was even the second time,. He expressed his regrets already last week, immediately after it transpired that the Israeli military this time did not just kill an ordinary Palestinian, but unfortunately, a Palestinian-Jordanian Judge from Amman. 
The question that now remains to be solved is how the Israelis in the joint investigation are going to explain away how it was possible that in their first accounts of what happened, they said that the ''terrorist'' (Judge Zuayter) cried ''Allahu akbar'' and tried to grab a weapon form one of the soldiers, before he attacked one of them with an iron rod and also tried to strangle a soldier before he got shot, while witnesses say that it was just an ordinary brawl between a soldier and the Judge, after one of the soldiers had pushed hem to the ground. But I think that we can be confident that also this minor problem will be solved.

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