US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives in Jordan on Friday evening after leaving Israel empty-handed in his efforts to secure humanitarian “pauses” in its war to destroy Hamas – Copyright POOL/AFP JONATHAN ERNST
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets Jordan’s King Abdullah II Saturday after leaving Israel empty-handed in his efforts to secure humanitarian “pauses” in its war to destroy Hamas.
Blinken arrived late Friday in Amman where he will also join a meeting of foreign ministers of five Arab countries which will be attended by a representative of the Palestinian Authority (PA) led by president Mahmud Abbas, a rival of Hamas.
In Israel, he discussed with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the idea of “humanitarian pauses” to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas and to allow aid to be distributed to the beleaguered population of the Gaza Strip.
But after meeting Blinken Friday, Netanyahu warned there could be no “temporary truce” in Gaza unless Hamas releases the hostages it holds.
The month-old war was triggered when the Islamist Hamas which rules Gaza launched bloody raids across the border into Israel on October 7.
Israeli officials say the militants killed more than 1,400 people, mainly civilians, and took 241 hostages, including Israelis, foreigners and dual nationals.
The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says more than 9,220 people have been killed in Israeli bombardments, most of them children or women.
Jordan said in a statement Friday the foreign ministers of Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar as well as a PA representative will meet Blinken in Amman to discuss the war.
Blinken’s trip comes amid increasing international fears that the conflict could spread.
A foreign ministry statement said the Amman talks will focus on “repercussions… of the dangerous escalation which threatens security throughout the region”.
Jordan shares a border with Israel and the West Bank, the Palestinian territory Israel has occupied since 1967 and which has seen rising violence since the start of the war in Gaza.
In 1994, Jordan became the second Arab state to make peace with Israel, after Egypt in 1979.
In a recent call with US President Joe Biden, King Abdullah stressed the need for a ceasefire in Gaza and an immediate humanitarian truce so aid can be delivered.
On Friday some 5,000 Jordanians demonstrated in Amman, calling on the king to press for a ceasefire. Protesters also want him to use Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel as leverage.
On Wednesday, Jordan recalled its ambassador from Israel in protest at Israel’s attacks on Gaza.
Israel said it regretted Jordan’s decision.
Blinken, who is on his second tour to the Middle East since the war erupted, on Friday reiterated Washington’s long-standing support for the eventual recognition of a Palestinian state.
“Two states for two peoples. Again, that is the only way to ensure lasting security for a Jewish and democratic Israel,” he said.