BEIRUT

Middle East

Jordan PM escapes no-confidence vote over row with Israel

Riot police clash with protesters near the Israeli embassy in Amman March 14, 2014. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

AMMAN: Jordan's prime minister escaped a no-confidence vote by parliament Tuesday that was motivated by his government's allegedly weak response to the killing of a Jordanian judge by Israeli soldiers.

The 150-member lower house renewed its confidence in Prime Minister Abdullah Ensur by an 81-29 vote, with 20 abstentions and 20 MPs absent.

Incensed by the shooting death of judge Raed Zeiter at a border crossing last week, MPs had demanded the government expel the Israeli ambassador and release Jordanian soldier Ahmad Dakamseh, who shot dead seven Israeli schoolgirls in the 1990s.

They have also demanded the government recall the Jordanian ambassador to Israel.

Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, becoming the only Arab country besides Egypt to have made peace with the Jewish state.

Nsur told the MPs on Tuesday the government "does not see that expelling the Israeli envoy and calling the Jordanian ambassador serve the path of our martyr's case," state-run Petra news agency reported.

"If we go ahead with such moves, Jordan will face repercussions that would go beyond our sorrows... It will also affect Jordan's abilities concerning the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks," he said.

Nsur did not mention Dakamseh, who is serving a life sentence for the 1997 shooting.

MPs were not immediatly available for comment as they were still meeting in parliament.

Israeli troops shot dead 38-year-old Zeiter, a Palestinian-Jordanian, at a border crossing between the occupied West Bank and Jordan on March 10, saying he had attacked them and tried to take one of their weapons.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights disputed the army's account, saying one of the soldiers pushed Zeiter after he had disembarked from a bus with other passengers so that Israeli soldiers could search it.

Nsur has held Israel "completely responsible" for Zeiter's death and demanded an apology for the "hideous" killing.

On Monday, the royal palace said in a statement that Israeli President Shimon Peres had apologised to King Abdullah II for the killing, and that the king had received a "similar" call from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Peres issued a statement saying he had called Abdullah to express "deep regret" for the shooting, but the statement did not contain a full apology.

 

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