The meeting in Jordan appeared to display a divide between the stance of the Arab region and the US on the war in Gaza.
US President Joe Biden suggested there has been progress in securing a “humanitarian pause” in Gaza on Saturday just days after the US House passed $14.5bn military aid package for Israel, which has rejected all forms of ceasefire
Biden, who has been heavily criticised for Washington’s unconditional support of Israel as it wages its most brutal war on Gaza to date, replied to a question on the matter as he left a church in Delaware. The US president said “yes” and gave a thumbs up without providing further details, according to AFP.
Biden’s somewhat brief statement came just days after the US House passed a Republican bill to provide Israel with $14bn in aid to bolster Israel’s military capabilities.
It includes $4bn to boost Israel’s Iron Dome, David’s Sling missile defence systems as well as military equipment transferred from US stocks, Al Jazeera reported. Following 226 votes in favour at the United States House of Representatives, the bill is now set to be presented to Senate for final approval.
The occupying state of Israel is already getting $3.8bn per year in military assistance and has received aid from the US worth more than $124bn. since its establishment following the Second World War.
While top US government officials have rallied behind Israel since it declared its war on Gaza, such rhetoric has appeared to soften in recent days, largely due to the global response. Since October 7, Israel has killed nearly 10,000 Palestinians, the majority of which children. Shocking footage of dead Palestinian infants, youth and women have circulated widely online, triggering mass protests worldwide and global calls for a ceasefire.
Following a meeting in Tel Aviv between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week, the latter called for a “humanitarian pause”.
“A number of legitimate questions were raised in our discussions today, including how to use any period of pause to maximise the flow of humanitarian assistance, how to connect the pause to the release of hostages, how to ensure that Hamas doesn’t use these pauses or arrangements to its own advantage,” the top US diplomat told journalists.
However, Netanyahu quickly rejected such a move.
“I made clear that we are continuing full force and that Israel refuses a temporary ceasefire which does not include the release of our hostages,” Netanyahu said in a televised statement.
On the same day, the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) carried out new massacres at three hospitals and a United Nations-run school, all of which are sheltering thousands of Palestinians.
Since the start of the war, the IOF has killed at least 9,488 Palestinians, including 3,826 children, with more than 1,000 others believed to be still trapped under the rubble.
On Saturday, seven Arab nations – Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation -demanded a permanent ceasefire in their meeting with Blinken in Amman.
Doha was represented by its Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, who met with Blinken in the Jordanian capital ahead of the joint meeting with the rest of the Arab officials.
During the meeting with Blinken, the Qatari official called for the need of diplomatic and regional efforts to immediately reach a ceasefire and urged the continuous opening of the Rafah crossing to allow for the flow of aid to those living under siege in Gaza.
The Qatari diplomat highlighted that the Gulf nation is still playing a mediating role with hopes to release those being held captive by Hamas as part of wider efforts to de-escalate the tensions and bring an end to the war.
However, Sheikh Mohammed stressed that the non-stop bombardment is not only exacerbating the humanitarian situation on the ground but also complicating talks to release the captives.
The seasoned Gulf mediator has been playing a critical diplomatic role in releasing the captives held by Hamas in Gaza and has so far succeeded in the release of four.
Then on November 1, Qatar’s mediation led to the opening of the shared Gaza-Egypt Rafah crossing for the first time since the start of the war, enabling the exit of hundreds of foreign nationals and critically wounded.
A Reuters report at the time pointed to Qatar brokering an agreement on the matter between Egypt, Israel and Hamas in coordination with the US. However, it is believed to be separate from other negotiations undertaken by Doha, including the release of captives from Hamas.
Arab nations, US at odds
The meeting in Amman appeared to display a divide between the stance of the Arab region and the US on the war in Gaza.
A joint press briefing with the foreign ministers of Jordan, Egypt and the US saw the Arab officials calling for an immediate ceasefire while Blinken was calling for mere “humanitarian pauses”.
“It’s our view that a ceasefire now would leave Hamas in place to regroup and repeat attacks,” Blinken said alongside his Jordanian and Egyptian counterparts.
Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukry stressed that the international community “should not deal with this crisis of international peace and security” with double standards.
“While some are condemning targeting civilians and describing this as a gross violations of humanitarian law and to adhere to the demands of a ceasefire, we find that they are opposed the same principles for the same people when things are related to the Palestinian cause, as if the Arab blood is lesser than the bloods of other people,” Shoukry said.
Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said that Israel was “committing war crimes” in Gaza while noting that “the whole region is sinking in a sea of hatred that will define generations to come.”
“We don’t accept that it is a self-defence; it is a ranging war that is killing civilians, destroying their homes, their hospitals, their schools, their mosques, and their churches. It cannot be justified under any pretext, and it will not bring Israel security; it will not bring the region peace,” Safadi said.
Despite Amman’s ties with Tel Aviv, Jordan has appeared to take a tough stance against Israel since the beginning of its deadly war on Gaza. Last week, Jordan’s foreign minister “immediately” recalled its ambassador to Israel over the “unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza.
Amman added that it would only send back its envoy if Israel halts its onslaught and called on Tel Aviv to recall its ambassador to Amman. Israel evacuated its embassies in Jordan as well as other countries it shares ties with, including Bahrain and Morocco.
Turkiye followed suit on Saturday by withdrawing its ambassador to Israel for consultations. On the same day, Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement that he sees Netanyahu as someone that Ankara can “no longer talk to.”
“Netanyahu is no longer someone we can talk to. We have written him off,” President Erdogan said, as quoted by Turkish media.
UAE presidential adviser Anwar Gargash said the latest war on Gaza has put on display Israel’s failure and called on Washington to adopt a new strategy to end the aggression.
“If this crisis continues, especially the humanitarian side, and if this crisis brings us back full circle to the old containment policy of pre-October 7, I think the American role here, forget right or wrong, but it will not be seen as effective,” he told a conference in Abu Dhabi.
The UAE and Bahrain normalised ties with Israel in 2020 under the controversial Abraham Accords, brokered by then US President Donald Trump. Morocco and Sudan followed suit just months later.
The war in Gaza is now nearing one month and top humanitarian organisations and officials have sounded the alarm on the devastation on the ground.
On Saturday night, Israel killed at least 51 Palestinians in the Al-Maghazi refugee camp, located in the central region of the Gaza Strip.
The IOF carried out other air strikes at the same time on the western and northern neighbourhoods of Gaza with the use of internationally restricted white phosphorus, Palestine’s news agency Wafa reported.
Israel has also maintained its complete siege on Gaza, preventing the entry of food, water, fuel and medical supplies.