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Arab demand for immediate Gaza ceasefire rejected by Blinken

Arab demand for immediate Gaza ceasefire rejected by Blinken

Amman: At a conference of Arab foreign ministers in Amman on Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken turned down a proposal from Jordan and Egypt for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

A humanitarian pause to facilitate the delivery of aid and the evacuation of inhabitants from the besieged area is the furthest Blinken would go in favour of a ceasefire, he declared.

“It is our view now that a ceasefire would simply leave Hamas in place, able to regroup and repeat what it did on Oct. 7,” Blinken told a news conference after the talks, alluding to the militant group's assault on southern Israel, which started the most recent Gaza conflict, Arab News reported.

After having one previous consultation meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah, the foreign ministers of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and a senior Palestinian official met with Blinken.

Jordan's Ayman Safadi, the Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Egypt's Sameh Shoukry, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani of Qatar, Hussein Al-Sheikh of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, and Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates were present at the meeting.

The meeting reiterated Arab demands for an "immediate" ceasefire and "undisrupted" delivery of relief supplies as part of attempts to end the conflict, according to a statement from the Jordanian Foreign Ministry.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Shoukry and Blinken, Safadi said that “slaughter and war crimes need to stop, and also the immunity given to Israel before the international law.”

He expressed alarm over the situation in the occupied West Bank, where "settlers are permitted to kill innocent Palestinians," and demanded the "immediate" delivery of aid into Gaza as well as an end to Israeli displacement of Palestinians.

Concerning the increasing number of civilian casualties in Gaza, Shoukry declared that "the slaughter of civilians cannot be justified in (any) terms even as self-defense" and called it "collective punishment."

The foreign minister of Egypt demanded that Israel stop violating international humanitarian law and called for an "immediate ceasefire without any conditions."

He also highlighted “double standards” in dealing with the increasing civilian toll, saying: “Arab blood is no less worthy."

Although the senior US envoy acknowledged that what aid has entered Gaza thus far is "inadequate," he stated that he agreed with his Arab counterparts over the necessity of aid corridors.

When asked why Washington doesn't use more pressure to halt the deaths of civilians, Blinken said that “Israel has the right to defend itself, but also to take means to ensure the protection of civilians and minimize harm to them.”

According to him, Hamas "embeds itself" in civilian society and uses civilian buildings as command centres and ammunition storage facilities.

“But Israel has an obligation to defend civilians. This is what I told the Israelis,” he said.

The top diplomat for Washington expressed his sadness at seeing children's remains being removed from Gaza's rubble. “I am a father and I have children and I know how it feels.”

Ending the press conference, Safadi said: “Self-defense? How would you explain this term to a father who is unable to protect his children and find shelter for them, not even in a refugee camp, a hospital or a UN organization?”

Before meeting Blinken, King Abdullah told the foreign ministers “to maintain Arab coordination and speak in one voice to the international community regarding the dangerous escalations in Gaza."

He added: “Arab states have the responsibility of pushing the international community and world powers to stop the war on Gaza, allow the uninterrupted delivery of aid, and protect civilians.”

The king warned that continued fighting would lead to an “explosion in the region,” a statement said.

The King of Jordan also called for continuous assistance to international relief agencies operating in Gaza, particularly UNRWA.

He restated that a two-state solution cannot bring about a just and comprehensive peace without a political solution.

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TAGS:Israel Palestine ConflictUS Secretary of State Antony Blinken
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