Israel evacuates embassy in Jordan

Ambassador temporarily withdrawn in view of planned "million-man march" against diplomatic mission in Amman.

    Protesters shouted anti-US and Israeli slogans outside the US embassy in Amman on Wednesday [Reuters]

    Israel has temporarily withdrawn its ambassador to Jordan over fears of violent demonstrations against its embassy in Amman, Israeli diplomatic sources say.

    Israeli diplomats in Jordan customarily return home at weekends, but Daniel Nevo and some other staff were brought back early on Thursday after being warned of imminent pro-Palestinian protests.

    Activists have called for a "million-man march" on Thursday evening against the Israeli mission in the Jordanian capital.

    Reports say there are fears the embassy could be assaulted, as the embassy in Egypt was last week.

    The Israeli embassy in Cairo was stormed by demonstrators on Saturday, forcing its evacuation. The countries are in talks on re-activating the Cairo mission. Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab states to sign peace treaties with Israel.

    Al Jazeera's Omar al Saleh in Amman said Jordanian security forces had beefed up their presence and would probably attempt to block roads leading to the embassy.

    Israel's deputy ambassador remained at the embassy with a skeleton staff, our correspondent reported.

    Diplomatic sources said Israel would decide on Saturday whether its diplomats would return to Amman on Sunday, as usual.

    US embassy protest

    Activists have staged regular sit-ins in recent weeks outside the Israeli embassy. But our correspondent said Thursday's demonstrations could be different because of last week's events in Cairo and because a number of political parties and Islamic movements had called on their supporters to protest.

    "They include the biggest, which is the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, and this group is the one that is capable of bringing significant numbers."

    The embassy evacuation also follows demonstrations on Wednesday demanding the closing of the US embassy in Jordan over WikiLeaks cables suggesting covert US plans to turn Jordan into a home for Palestinians.

    It was a rare anti-American demonstration in Jordan, whose government is a close ally of the US. The 70 activists burned American and Israeli flags in a noisy protest opposite the embassy in Amman.

    They chanted, "The people want the Americans out."

    Roughly half of the country's six million population is of Palestinian origin. With Palestinian-Israeli peace talks stalled, some Jordanians fear Israel may try to deport Palestinians to Jordan.

    Abdullah has spoken out strongly against using Jordan as a substitute for a Palestinian state, a concept favoured by some Israelis.

    Whereas pro-democracy protests have toppled the leadership in Egypt, in Jordan King Abdullah II has taken some of the steam out of protests since January with extra subsidies and reform.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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