Arab leaders on Saturday urged an immediate ceasefire in Israel’s military offensive in Gaza, pressing US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to convince Israel, but the top US diplomat said such a halt right now would only allow Palestinian militant group Hamas to regroup and attack Israel again.
In a rare public disagreement at a news conference in Amman, foreign ministers of Jordan and Egypt, standing alongside Blinken, repeatedly pushed for a cessation of hostilities, saying the death of thousands of civilians could not be justified as self-defence.
Blinken is on his second trip to the region since Israel and Hamas went to war on October 7, when the Islamist militant Palestinian group raided Israel from Gaza, in a rampage Israel says killed 1,400 people, with more than 240 others taken hostage.
Health officials in Hamas-run Gaza say more than 9,250 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks since then. The Israeli army has struck Gaza from the air, imposed a siege and launched a ground assault, stirring global alarm at humanitarian conditions in the enclave. Food is scarce and medical services are collapsing.
“A ceasefire now would simply leave Hamas in place, able to regroup and repeat what it did on October 7,” Blinken said. “No nation, none of us would accept that … So it is important to reaffirm Israel’s right and its obligation to defend itself.”
Blinken earlier met Saudi, Qatari, Emirati, Egyptian and Jordanian foreign ministers as well as Palestinian representatives in Amman.
Source: Reuters, SCMP