Conflicting Israeli and Jordanian statements on murder of Judge Raed Zeiter
By Ray Hanania
The growing controversy over the March 10, 2014 murder of Jordanian Judge Raed Zeiter has put added pressure on the government of Jordan and Israel to conduct a complete and transparent investigation into the shooting.
The Israelis maintain video surveillance of all of the checkpoints and it is believed that the killing and the events that led up to the shooting of Zeiter, a prominent Jordanian official who was on his way to visit relatives in Nablus, are captured on video that are held by the Israelis.
So far, the Israelis have not said anything about the video or evidence that might back of their assertions that Zeiter was a “terrorist” who tried to grab a soldier’s weapon to cause violent harm. In fact, many believe that although a scuffle or possibly an exchange of words between Zeiter and an Israeli soldier resulted in that soldier shooting and killing Zeiter at point blank range.
Israel’s military has been harshly condemned by Amnesty International, one of the world’s most reputable civil rights organizations, which called Israeli soldiers “trigger happy” in a recent report on the high number of Palestinian children killed by Israeli soldiers in the Occupied West Bank of Palestine. Click here to read the story on the Amnesty International report on the Israeli killing of children.
Arab Daily News Editor Ali Younes first revealed the text content of the conflicting statements issued by both Israel and the Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Israeli President Shimon Peres expressed “regret” for the killing of Judge Zeiter, a well respected and prominent citizen of Jordan who happens to be of Palestinian heritage, while the statement from Jordanian officials asserts falsely that the Israelis issued an “apology.” Read Ali Younes’ story. Read Ali Younes’ second followup story.
No apology has been made by Israel, which is not unusual. Israelis have murdered civilians in the past and have resisted ever acknowledging their complicity in the violent crimes.
The following is a copy of the Arabic Language Press Release issued Omar Talal Omari, the press agent on behalf of the Royal Court of Jordan on March 17, 2014 following the publication of Ali Younes’ story:
From: Omar Talal Omari <(email removed)>
Date: 17 March 2014 17:47:40 GMT+4
Subject:الملك يتلقى اتصالين هاتفيين من الرئيس الإسرائيلي بيريز ورئيس الوزراء نتنياهو
الديوان الملكي الهاشمي
إدارة الإعلام والاتصال
الملك يتلقى اتصالين هاتفيين من الرئيس الإسرائيلي بيريز ورئيس الوزراء نتنياهو
عمان – تلقى جلالة الملك عبدالله الثاني اليوم اتصالا هاتفيا من الرئيس الإسرائيلي، شمعون بيريز، قدم لجلالة الملك خلاله اعتذاره، كرئيس لدولة إسرائيل، عن حادثة استشهاد القاضي رائد زعيتر، معربا عن تأثره البالغ وأسفه لما حدث، ومؤكدا التزام إسرائيل بالمضي قدما بالتحقيق المشترك في الحادث مع الجانب الأردني.
وشدد الرئيس بيريز، خلال الاتصال، حرصه على الاستمرار في العمل مع جلالة الملك والأردن بما يخدم تحقيق السلام في المنطقة.
وكان جلالته قد تلقى اتصالا مماثلا من رئيس الوزراء الإسرائيلي، بنيامين نتنياهو.
Omar Talal Alomari
Domestic Media Manager
Royal Hashemite Court
(JORDANIAN STATEMENT TRANSLATED FROM ARABIC TO ENGLISH:)
The Hashemite Royal Court
Media and Communication Department
The King receives two telephone calls from Israeli President Peres and Prime Minister Netanyahu
Amman- His Majesty King Abdullah II received a telephone call today from Israeli President Shimon Peres in which he apologized for his Majesty as the president of the state of Israel for the incident of martyrdom of judge Raed Zeiter. [ Peres] also expressed his profound compassion and his regrets over what happened. He also stressed the Israeli determination to continue the joint investigating with the Jordanian side.
Peres also stressed during his conversation [with the King] his care to keep working with his majesty the King and Jordan in order to achieve peace in the region.
His Majesty also received a similar telephone call from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Here is the English statement issued by the Government of Israel:
From: GpoNews <GpoNews@Press.pmo.gov.il>
Date: March 17, 2014 at 10:30:12 AM EDT
To: GpoNews <GpoNews@Press.pmo.gov.il>
Subject: 2 press releases: President Peres spoke with King Abdullah II of Jordan and delivered a special statement to the press / Rambam Hospital: 7-Year-Old Jordanian Boy Saved by Israeli Doctors
President Peres spoke with King Abdullah II of Jordan and delivered a special statement to the press
President Shimon Peres, earlier today (Monday, 17 March 2014), spoke with His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan and delivered a special statement to the media regarding the incident at the Allenby Bridge on March 10th.
President Peres said, “On behalf of the State of Israel, I wish to express my deepest condolences to the people of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan for the death of Judge Raed Zeiter at the King Hussein Bridge on March 10th. As the President of the State of Israel I would like to express compassion to the bereaved family, I share in their grief. Earlier today I conducted an important conversation with His Majesty King Abdullah II and expressed our deep regret to him. We discussed the importance of achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians based on two states for two peoples. We further discussed the urgent need to bring an end to the bloodshed in the Middle East and advance a future of stability and prosperity for all the people of our region. Peace and cooperation with all our neighbors remains Israel’s highest hope. Israel attaches great importance to our relations with Jordan and the peace agreement between our two countries. King Abdullah II is a leader of vision, and under his leadership Jordan plays a key role in the search for peace and stability in the Middle East. Israel agreed to the Jordanian request to establish a joint Israeli-Jordanian team to complete the investigation and their work has begun.”
For additional information:
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Younes discussed the conflicting statements and their meaning during a podcast broadcast by The Arab Daily News on iTunes. Click here to listen to the podcast interview with Ali Younes.
One of the tragedies of this major story is that many Arab World publications are attempting to play down reporting on the story to protect the integrity of the Jordanian Government and to protect King Abdullah II who is under pressure to respond more forcefully to the killing. Also, sadly, many stories don’t mention who Judge Zeiter is. In fact, he is treated as if he is insignificant. There are no stories detailing the prominence of Judge Raed Zeiter in the Arab media, treating him merely as another one of the many casualties of Israeli violence and terrorism.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and columnist. He is the managing editor of the Arab Daily News at www.TheArabDailyNews.com.)