Thursday, May 06, 2021

06-May-21: So will the injustice continue to be ignored?

From the Jerusalem Post paper edition, April 30, 2021

A story by Yonah Bob, a veteran journalist at the Jerusalem Post, published this past week pulls together some of the numerous strands of our efforts to bring Ahlam Tamimi to justice.

She's the Jordanian woman who freely admits to planting the bomb that destroyed the Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria. 

Our daughter Malki was one of the many children whose lives ended there that day.

In a piece entitled "Will Ahlam Tamimi be extradited from Jordan for the murder of Malki Roth?" and published in the paper's online edition (as well as in this past Friday's paper edition), Bob recounts the basic facts of the August 9, 2001 massacre orchestrated by Ahlam Tamimi, as well as the terrorism trial that followed at whose conclusion she was

sentenced to 16 full life terms in jail, but was released in 2011, as part of the Gilad Schalit prisoner exchange.

The narrative jumps forward to March 14, 2017 when the US government let it be known, while unsealing long-secret terrorism charges against Tamimi under US law ["14-Mar-17: Sbarro massacre mastermind is now formally charged and her extradition is requested"], that it had

issued a request for Tamimi’s extradition. The reason? Roth was not only Israeli, but American as well. Given that Jordan’s King Abdullah is heavily reliant on US military and economic assistance, quick compliance could have expected. Instead, what has followed according to Malki’s father, Arnold Roth, has been “an egregious failure of justice.”

If you follow this blog of ours, you are in a position to know how calling the Tamimi case and the kid-gloves treatment of Jordan a failure of justice is no exaggeration.

The Jerusalem Post story briefly looks at two of the largest roadblocks impeding the progress of efforts to see Tamimi brought in chains from her safe harbor in Jordan to face criminal charges in Washington DC. 

One is expressed this way:

Yes, the US has huge leverage over Jordan – but how hard does it want to push?
That raises complex political and geostrategic issues that, just as in real life, are hinted at in the article but barely discussed.

The second has to do with this peculiar twist:
...Jordan signed a treaty with the US decades ago. But shortly after the 2017 extradition request, a Jordanian court ruled that the parliament had never ratified it. So the court said the treaty was not in effect and the government was barred from extraditing Tamimi.
The Court of Cassation, Amman [Image Source]
The Jordanian position was expressed by its highest judicial forum, the Court of Cassation. In a 2017 decision handed down just six days after the criminal complaint against Tamimi was unsealed and announced in Washington, that court in Amman gave a single reason why, in Bob's words, the treaty was not in effect. It should have been ratified, the judges ruled. 

And since the parliament did not ratify, the treaty - it was said - did not give Jordan a basis for complying with the US request for her to be handed over, allowing Tamimi herself, with the help of Aljazeera, to preposterously adopt the role of perplexed and misunderstood victim ["24-Mar-17: Our daughter's grinning killer is shocked the US is pursuing her and for no obvious reason"]

The ratification alibi is a claim that has never been made in a public way by any senior Jordanian official with the sole exception of its current deputy prime minister [we wrote about that too: "13-Nov-19: Thank you, Mr Foreign Minister"]. No one else - no Jordanian ambassador or other senior diplomat, no one speaking in the name of the Hashemite Royal Court - has ever addressed the issue for the record. 

It's almost as if they're too embarrassed. For just one reason, whatever the merits of the argument that Jordan's parliament never ratified the treaty after it was signed all those years ago, what's stopped them from doing it since then? No Jordanian source denies that they could simply ratify it this afternoon. Clearly there's something seriously disingenuous going on.

For its part, the United States has at all relevant times, right up until today, listed its 1995 Extradition Treaty with Jordan in the authoritative US catalogue of treaties it has with other countries. Check it out in the current and most recent online edition of "Treaties in Force" (sub-titled "A List of Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States in Force on January 1, 2020"), a 570-page long PDF compiled and kept updated by the Treaty Affairs Staff, Office of the Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State. 

The treaty with Jordan is listed there on page 245. The notation shows it was signed in Washington on March 28, 1995 and entered into force on July 29, 1995.

We don't know why reporters almost never refer to the Treaties in Force listing and ask the obvious questions. But the reality is they don't. Perhaps acknowledging that the treaty exists would lead to further questions which bring on discomfort and even more questions. 

Inside Jordan's parliament [Image Source]
The treaty exists. What's more, it has served as the basis for a series of extraditions by which Jordan willingly handed over fugitive Jordanian terrorists to the US. They were then put them on trial on US soil and US law and sent to US prisons. Yonah Bob's article names them.

With this in mind, you might expect a full-throated statement by senior US officials laying out a principled position. Something (we're making it up) along the lines of this:
"The United States, a supportive and generous strategic ally, believes Jordan has a clear and unambiguous obligation under our quarter-century old strategic agreement signed with His Majesty King Husssein, the revered late father of His Majesty King Abdullah II, today's king, to hand over to US justice the Jordanian fugitive who says she placed the bomb that killed so many innocents including two US nationals. Respectfully and in the name of our vital bilateral relations as well as justice, we expect Jordan to do this without further delay, thereby expressing honorable compliance with the principles that underpin our mutually beneficial alliance" and so on
but you would be disappointed. 

No US government voice has said anything like it. Not during the Obama presidency when the prosecution efforts got under way. And not during the four years of the Trump presidency when the criminal charge, sealed under conditions of strict secrecy in 2013, was finally unsealed in a blaze of welcome calls for justice to be done ["15-Mar-17: Sbarro and justice"].

What can we expect now? The Jerusalem Post offers this guarded view:
If there is hope, it might be if either the Biden administration shows a greater readiness to confront Jordan than either the Obama or Trump administrations, or if a new potential [Israeli] prime minister, like Bennett takes an interest in the issue. The coming months will show whether Biden, Bennett or any other new face has an interest in the issue, or whether the injustice will continue.

Since this is about hope, there's room be optimistic. Stay tuned.

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