According to the Massad plan, the Palestinian Hamas leader would proceed on his way until the poison did its deadly damage far removed from the street location where he had been poisoned.
Fortunately for Mishal, Jordanian police captured two of the assassins immediately after the street attack. Jordan's King Hussein (father of the current Jordanian King Abdullah) telephoned Netanyahu with the news that he was holding his Israeli agents, all of whom he was prepared to execute for attempted murder.
Hussein had learned from the captured Israeli team members that they had brought with them an antidote that could save Mishal. They admitted they carried the antidote in case one of the assassins was accidental poisoned.
To underscore his anger and determination to save Khalid Mishal, who was a guest in the King's nation, King Hussein called U.S. President Bill Clinton to deliver the same warning.
The word to Washington was blunt: Israel must save Khalid or Israel's agents will die. Clinton called Netanyahu. A humiliating (to Israel) agreement was reached. Israel would produce the antidote immediately, which it did.
Furthermore, Israel was forced to release a number of Israeli-held Palestinian prisoners, most notably Sheikh Ahmed Ismail Hassan Yassin (1937-2004), a founder of Hamas, who served as the spiritual leader of Hamas. The Sheikh, who was almost totally blind and wheel-chair bound, was released and returned to Gaza to great acclaim by the Palestinian public.
Netanyahu lost his re-election bid in July, 1999, defeated for Prime Minister by Ehud Barak. Netanyahu returned to politics in 2002 as Foreign Affairs Minister (2002-2003) and Finance Minister (2003-2005) in Ariel Sharon's governments.
It was during Netanyahu's term as Finance Minister that Ahmed Yassin was killed in an Israeli attack on March 22, 2004. Israeli AH-64 Apache helicopter gunships fired Hellfire missiles that killed Yassin and both of his bodyguards. The attack came while he was being wheeled out of an early morning prayer session in Gaza city.
The period of time after that humiliating failure by Israel's Massad agents to kill Khalid Mishal was a dark period in the career of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Jordan and the U.S. were the instruments of his humiliation in that dark period. And just across the Jordan River, starting a few months after Netanyahu's humiliation, there sat William J. Burns, the U.S. ambassador to Jordan, two countries that humiliated Netanyahu in 1997.
Netanyahu returned to power as prime minister in 2009. Khalid Mishal is still an Hamas leader.
In the Burns-Netanyahu story that began with a 27-year-old William J. Burns driving communication equipment across a desert to Baghdad, Benjamin Netanyahu has suffered a major political setback due in large part to the work of William J. Burns .
Burns (above), the man who was the US. ambassador to Jordan in 1999 when Netanyahu lost his election, has now negotiated an agreement with Iran, worked out in secret, to lift crippling sanctions on the Iranian economy.
He was chosen for the assignment by Secretary of State John Kerry, who describes his Deputy this way:
"Bill is the gold standard for quiet, head-down, get-it-done diplomacy," Kerry said of Burns.