Small protest in Jordan at Israeli Embassy

AP News
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Posted: Sep 15, 2011 1:41 PM
Small protest in Jordan at Israeli Embassy

Only about 300 young protesters answered a call in Jordan for a "million man march" against the Israeli Embassy Thursday, after Israel cleared most of its staff out.

Israeli media reported the staff was removed for fear of a riot similar to the one last Friday at the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, but the Israeli Foreign Ministry insisted the staff went home to Israel for the weekend as usual. It said a duty representative remained on call in Amman, as is routine procedure.

In the end, the demonstration was small and peaceful.

The Muslim Brotherhood _ Jordan's largest opposition group and a fierce critic of the 1994 peace treaty with Israel _ accounted for only about 100 of the protesters. Others were mostly youths.

"We reject the peace treaty and we don't want an Israeli Embassy in Jordan," said protester Abdullah Muharam, 24, an auditor affiliated with a Jordanian youth movement.

The call for a large demonstration came against the background of frozen Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and reports about a scheme to deport Palestinians to Jordan instead of creating a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. That view is held by a tiny fringe among Israel's extremists.

Nearly half of Jordan's 6 million residents are of Palestinian descent.

Led by leftists, labor unions and Islamists, the protesters chanted, "We want to get rid of the (Israeli) embassy," as they burned an Israeli flag about a mile (1.5 kilometers) down the hill from the Israeli Embassy.

Police formed several lines and set up metal fences to prevent the protesters from marching toward the embassy. In one incident, a handful of demonstrators pushed one of the fences against policemen, but were quickly pushed back.

Dozens of riot police stood guard up the hill, blocks away from the protest and near the embassy, where it was business as usual earlier Thursday as about two dozen Jordanian visa applicants waited outside the fortified building.

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Associated Press Writer Jamal Halaby in Amman, Jordan, contributed to this report.