MANAMA: Jordan’s foreign minister said on Saturday that he did not understand how Israel’s goal of obliterating the Palestinian militant group Hamas it is fighting in Gaza could be achieved.
“Israel says it wants to wipe out Hamas. There’s a lot of military people here, I just don’t understand how this objective can be realized,” said Ayman Safadi.
He warned Jordan would do “whatever it takes to stop” the displacement of Palestinians, amid heavy Israeli bombardment of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip in retaliation for an Oct. 7 attack by Hamas and other Islamist militants.
“We will never allow that to happen, in addition to it being a war crime, it would be a direct threat to our national security. We’ll do whatever it takes to stop it” said Safadi at the IISS Manama Dialogue security summit in Bahrain.
The Israel-Hamas war has reawakened long-standing fears in Jordan, home to a large population of Palestinian refugees and their descendants. They fear that Israel could expel Palestinians en masse from the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians have surged since Oct. 7 attack.
“This war is not taking us anywhere but toward more conflict, more suffering and the threat of expanding into regional wars,” said Safadi.
Israel did not immediately respond to Safadi's comments, which included a call for an immediate ceasefire and end to the fighting.
However, on hand was Brett McGurk, the White House's National Security Council coordinator for the Middle East, who said that “a release of large number of hostages would result in a significant pause in fighting ... and a massive surge of humanitarian relief.”
“There’s no returning to Oct. 6. That’s true for Israel. It’s true for Palestinians,” McGurk said. “No country can live with the threats of terror like what we saw from Hamas unleashed, on Oct. 7 on their border. And at the same time, Palestinians deserve need and require safety and self-determination.”
The European Union's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, added: “It’s quite understandable that without the freedom of the hostages, nothing can be solved.”
Safadi later offered a sharp retort to that: “Israel is taking 2.3 million Palestinians hostage.”
Top foreign policy adviser to the United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said on Saturday that statements from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about a longer term presence in Gaza were worrying.
“We hear now from the Israeli prime minister and indeed the Israeli president about the sort of longer term Israeli connection to Gaza. They are very worrying,” Anwar Gargash said at the Manama summit.
“This indicates that perhaps the lesson that we as the majority of people in region are taking away from the Gaza crisis which is the need to go back to the two state solution, we need to go back to an Israeli and Palestinian state living side by side. That lesson has perhaps not been the same.”