Jordan’s Foreign Minister Offers Blistering Criticism of Israel as Its War on Hamas Rages On

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Jordan’s foreign minister offered blistering criticism Saturday of Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, describing it as “blatant aggression” against Palestinian civilians that threatens to engulf the wider Middle East.

Ayman Safadi’s harsh assessment, alleging Israel was committing “war crimes” by besieging the Gaza Strip and cutting off food, medicine and fuel shipments, shows how strained relations have become between Israel and Jordan — which reached a peace deal in 1994.

“All of us have to speak loud and clear about the catastrophe that the Israeli war is bringing, not just on Gaza, but on the region in general,” Safadi told the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Manama Dialogue summit in Bahrain. “This is not a time for mincing words. This is a time to state facts as they are.”

He added: “This is not self-defense. This is a blatant aggression, the victims of which are innocent Palestinians.”

Israel did not immediately respond to Safadi’s comments, which included a call for an immediate cease-fire and end to the fighting.

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Israel responded with a pounding campaign of airstrikes, then a ground offensive that surrounded Gaza City to the Gaza Strip’s north. More than 11,400 Palestinians have been killed in the war, two-thirds of them women and minors, according to Palestinian health authorities. Another 2,700 have been reported missing, believed buried under rubble. The count does not differentiate between civilians and militants, and Israel says it has killed thousands of militants.

Speaking before the summit, Safadi described the Israeli government now led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the hardest-right coalition ever to govern the country, as apparently aiming to dislodge Palestinians from the Gaza Strip. He said that “will be a direct threat to our national security” in Jordan and Egypt.

“They all for years have been saying the only way to move forward is to kick the Palestinians out of their ancestral land and wipe the Palestinians out of the face of the Earth,” Safadi said.

After the war, Safadi said Arab countries also would not “come and clean the mess after Israel.”

“Let me be very clear. I know speaking on behalf of Jordan but having discussed this issue with many, with almost all our brethren, there’ll be no Arab troops going to Gaza. None. We’re not going to be seen as the enemy,” he said. “How could anybody talk about the future of Gaza when we do not know what kind of Gaza will be left once this aggression ends?”

Safadi insisted the only way forward would be a two-state solution for the Israelis and Palestinians, even though the peace process has been moribund for years. Now, efforts for Israel to reach new diplomatic recognition deals with Arab nations — particularly Saudi Arabia — appear frozen.

“We’ve been saying that the fallacy of assuming that you can parachute over the Palestinian issue to create regional peace is wrong,” he said. “It will only bring disaster. And here we are. Show me who’s talking about any regional project at this war, at this point, who’s talking about integration? It’s all about war.”

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