US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his counterparts from Egypt and Jordan agreed on the need to do more to protect Palestinian civilians in Gaza, but a clear point of division emerged on the question of a possible ceasefire.
Though the Jordanian and Egyptian foreign ministers urged an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, Blinken took the position that that would be counterproductive and made clear the furthest he would go was supporting a humanitarian pause to give time for humanitarian supplies to be delivered and getting civilians out of Gaza.
“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 said at the news conference after the talks, referring to Hamas’ attack on southern Israel that triggered the latest Gaza war.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told reporters that though he condemned the Hamas attacks and that though “nobody in their right mind” would “belittle” the pain felt by Israel that day, the war in Gaza could not be permitted to continue.
“The whole region in sinking in a sea of hatred that will define generations to come,” Safadi said after Blinken and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.
He said the Arab countries were demanding an immediate ceasefire, a more dramatic action than the humanitarian pauses supported by the Biden administration to allow for the delivery of food and other supplies and to enable time to secure the release of hostages.
“We don’t accept that this is self-defense,” Safadi said, adding, “It cannot be justified under any pretext and it will not bring Israel security, it will not bring the region peace.”
Israel is committing “war crimes” and that it should not be above international law, he stressed.
Earlier, the Lebanese and Egyptian leaders urged the international community to intensify efforts to “contain the situation and avert expanding the scope of violence.”
Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati flew to Cairo on Saturday for talks with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, after his meeting with Blinken in the Jordanian capital of Amman.
According to a statement from Sisi’s office, they also affirmed the necessity of “relaunching the peace track and implement the state-state solution principle to achieve justice, security and stability to the region’s peoples.”