Israeli official cancels participation in Amman event following dispute over Jordanian’s death


JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli government minister canceled his participation at an event in Jordan hosted by King Abdullah II following an argument between the two countries over the death of a Jordanian citizen.

Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis said he would not attend the ceremony highlighting regional scientific cooperation after Amman condemned the killing by an Israeli policeman as “heinous.” The Jordanian man had stabbed the officer repeatedly in an attack in the Old City of Jerusalem.

“The scientific project is important, the peace with Jordan is very important, but standing up for the truth is more important than anything,” Akunis told Army Radio.

Akunis told The Times of Israel, “A country can’t take blow after blow and show restraint. Now and then a country needs to make a diplomatic protest. It is the least that can be done; we aren’t breaking the rules.”

Ministers from Iran, the Palestinian Authority, Turkey, Pakistan and Bahrain are scheduled to attend the event inaugurating a particle accelerator.

Akunis told Army Radio that it was his decision not to attend the ceremony.

Mohammad Abdullah Salim al-Kasji, 57, had entered Israel on a tourist visa several days before launching the attack.

“The Israeli government, as the occupying power, bears responsibility for the shooting of a Jordanian citizen in the occupied East Jerusalem on Saturday, which led to his martyrdom,” the Jordanian government said in a statement following the incident.

In response, Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement: “Just as Israel denounces terror attacks in Jordan, so must Jordan denounce terror attacks in Israel. Terrorism is terrorism, no matter where it is.”

Israel and Jordan signed a peace agreement in 1994.

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