March 15, 2014 - 5:26:52 am
The shooting death of a Jordanian judge by Israeli border guards this week shows the wanton disregard for an Arab’s life by Israelis. Raed Al Zaytar, a 38-year-old Amman magistrate of Palestinian origin, was fatally shot by Israeli border guards on Monday at the Allenby Bridge crossing that links Jordan and the West Bank. The Israeli military said the judge attacked its forces with a metal pole, attempted to seize one soldier’s rifle and shouted slogans. In a statement, the military referred to him as a ‘terrorist.’
This incident is another example of the excessive use of force by Israelis against Palestinians. Heavily armed Israeli soldiers routinely fire at Palestinians at the slightest provocation, even when they are unarmed, and even for such provocations as pelting stones. The Israeli authorities have called Raed Al Zaytar a terrorist, and if a judge could be called a terrorist, the plight of ordinary Palestinians can only be imagined.
Expectedly, the killing has triggered an outpouring of anger not only in Jordan and the Arab region, but even in the international community. It comes at a time when the US is counting on Jordan’s help in brokering a Middle East peace deal for which US Secretary of State John Kerry has been trying assiduously.
The killing will also adversely affect otherwise peaceful Israel-Jordan relations. It occurs at a sensitive time for Jordanian-Israeli ties. There have been growing fears in Jordan in recent months that the US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians could lead to the permanent settlement of Jordan’s 2-million-strong Palestinian refugee population. Jordanians have also been angered by the debate among Israeli lawmakers about allowing Jewish prayer at the Al Aqsa mosque.
Jordan is considering options for retaliation. Some lawmakers in the country are even calling for the annulment of the peace treaty between the two countries and declare holy war against Israel. After an intense debate, the lawmakers finally voted overwhelmingly for a measure giving Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour’s government a one-week deadline to expel the Israeli ambassador from Amman or face a vote of no confidence.
Israel being Israel, any act of retaliation by Jordan is unlikely to make any impact, or act as a deterrent for the Jewish state from committing such crimes in future. Israel has evolved into a law unto itself, and it’s this immunity which has been encouraging it to commit more crimes against humanity.
As Arab countries remain entangled in a fight for their own survival, the Palestinian issue has been pushed to the bottom of priorities, if at all it figures in the list of their priorities. But they will have to return to the issue one day. Lasting Arab peace is impossible without Palestinians leading a dignified life which is the birthright of all human beings.