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Israeli ambassador returns to embassy in Jordan

From Kevin Flower, CNN
Protesters call for the closure of the Israeli Embassy in Amman, Jordan, on September 15, 2011.
Protesters call for the closure of the Israeli Embassy in Amman, Jordan, on September 15, 2011.
  • All but a skeleton staff was sent home from the embassy Thursday
  • More of the staff is expected to return to the embassy Sunday
  • Anti-Israel demonstrations have taken place in Amman for the past several weeks
  • Israel
  • Amman (Jordan)

Jerusalem (CNN) -- The Israeli ambassador to Jordan has returned to Amman a day after security concerns pushed officials to send much of the embassy staff home early, an Israeli foreign ministry spokeswoman said Friday.

All but a skeleton staff at the Israeli Embassy in Amman went home due to security concerns Thursday.

Staffers typically travel between Amman and Israel every Friday and Saturday, but they were sent home a day early this week after last week's ransacking of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo by protesters and plans for anti-Israel protests this week in Amman.

The turnout for Thursday's demonstration in the Jordanian capital, however, was small and the Israeli ambassador returned Friday.

The full embassy staff is expected to be back at work Sunday in Amman.

Anti-Israel expressions and demonstrations have been taking place in Amman recently.

A Facebook page calling for a million-man protest to close the Israeli Embassy in Amman has more than 3,000 people signed up as "attending" the event.

Also, protesters against Jordan's ties with Israel have been gathering every Thursday outside an Amman mosque for more than a year.

Those who organize the gatherings refer to themselves as the jama'at al-Kalouti, which means "the group of the Kalouti," named after the mosque near the Israeli Embassy in western Amman.

The protesters are calling for the closure of the embassy, the expulsion of the ambassador and annulment of the 1994 peace treaty that established diplomatic relations between Jordan and Israel.

On Thursday night, about 400 people gathered outside the mosque, according to Petra, Jordan's state-run news agency.

Eyewitnesses reported that security was increased around the already-fortified embassy in the western part of Amman in anticipation of the protest.

More than half of Jordan's 6.5 million residents are of Palestinian origin.

On September 9, an estimated 3,000 Egyptian protesters tore down a wall surrounding the building that houses the Israeli Embassy in Cairo and entered its offices, tossing papers bearing Hebrew writing from the windows and into the streets.

Egyptians have been angry about the killing last month of five Egyptian police officers by Israeli soldiers when Israel went after militants who had attacked civilians near the Israeli-Egyptian border.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh and journalist Amy Hybels contributed to this report.