JERUSALEM (JTA) — Jordan’s new justice minister participated in a demonstration calling for the release of a Jordanian soldier who murdered seven Israeli schoolgirls.
Hussein Mujalli, who was named minister last week, served as a defense attorney for Ahmad Dakamseh, who in March 1997 fired on a group of eighth-grade Israeli schoolgirls visiting Baqura, a scenic peninsula on the Jordan River near Israel’s border with Jordan.
Jordan’s charge d’affaires was summoned Tuesday to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, where Yaacov Hadas, deputy director general for the Middle East and the Peace Process, expressed the country’s "shock and revulsion" at the minister’s participation in Monday’s rally and statements that he has made in its wake.
Hadas called on the Jordanian government to "immediately and unequivocally denounce the minister’s statement" and to reject all calls for the release of Dakamseh.
Mujalli said he was participating in Monday’s rally outside his office as Dakamseh’s attorney, not as justice minister.
In an interview Monday with the French news agency AFP, Mujalli called Dakamseh a "hero."
"It is still my case and I will still defend him," Mujalli said. "It is a top priority for me."
Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994. King Hussein traveled from Jordan to Israel following the shootings to offer personal condolences to the families of the murdered girls, and Jordan paid compensation.