King meets US president, urges end to war on Gaza

Jordan

Published: 2024-02-13 09:22

Last Updated: 2024-02-29 13:17


King meets US president, urges end to war on Gaza
King meets US president, urges end to war on Gaza

His Majesty King Abdullah II met with US President Joe Biden at the White House on Monday and stressed that the war on Gaza is “one of the most devastating wars in recent history”, noting that “we cannot stand by and let this continue”.

In joint remarks to the press following a meeting with President Biden attended by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II, His Majesty said, “We need a lasting ceasefire now. This war must end.”

The King added that nearly 100,000 people have been killed, injured, or are missing—the vast majority are women and children, warning that an Israeli attack on Rafah “is certain to produce another humanitarian catastrophe.”

His Majesty continued, “The situation is already unbearable for over a million people, who have been pushed into Rafah since the war started.”

“The potential threat of Palestinian displacement beyond the borders of Gaza and the West Bank is something we view with extreme concern and cannot be allowed,” the King stressed.

Calling for urgently and immediately working to ensure the sustainable delivery of sufficient aid into Gaza, through all possible entry points and mechanisms, His Majesty thanked the US for its support on this, and warned that restrictions on vital relief aid and medical items are leading to inhumane conditions.

“It is imperative that UNRWA continues to receive the support it needs to carry out its mandate,” the King reaffirmed, noting that “no other UN agency can do what UNRWA is doing in helping the people of Gaza through this humanitarian catastrophe”.

His Majesty stressed that UNRWA’s work in other areas of operation, especially in Jordan where 2.3 million Palestinian refugees are registered, is also vital.

Warning against ignoring the situation in the West Bank and the holy sites in Jerusalem, the King said nearly 400 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since October 7, including almost 100 children, and over 4,000 injured.

“Continued escalations by extremist settlers in the West Bank and Jerusalem’s holy sites and the expansion of illegal settlements will unleash chaos on the entire region,” His Majesty warned.

The King added that the vast majority of Muslim worshippers are not being allowed to enter Al Aqsa Mosque, while Christian churches have also voiced concerns about increasing and unprecedented restrictions and threats.

“It is also important to stress that the separation of the West Bank and Gaza cannot be accepted,” His Majesty added, reiterating that seven decades of occupation, death, and destruction have proven beyond any doubt that there can be no peace without a political horizon.

“Military and security solutions are not the answer. They can never bring peace,” the King said.

“All attacks against innocent civilians, women and children, including those of October 7th, cannot be accepted by any Muslim as I had previously stressed,” His Majesty continued, adding, “we must make sure the horrors of the past few months since October 7th are never repeated nor accepted by any human being.”

The King noted the importance of working along Arab partners and the international community to step up efforts to reach a ceasefire in Gaza and immediately start working to create a political horizon that leads to just and comprehensive peace, on the basis of the two-state solution.

An independent, sovereign, and viable Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with Israel, in peace and security is the only solution that will guarantee peace and security, for the Palestinians and the Israelis, as well as the entire region, His Majesty said.

Addressing President Biden, the King added, “Your leadership, Mr. President, is key to addressing this conflict, and Jordan is ready to work with you towards peace, as always.”

At the outset of his remarks, His Majesty had noted that the visit to the United States carries an added meaning, as Jordan and the US mark 75 years of exemplary, strategic partnership.

“We had hoped we would be marking this major milestone during better circumstances in my region and the world,” the King said.

For his part, President Biden said the Israeli military operation in Rafah should not proceed without a credible plan for ensuring the safety and support of more than 1 million people sheltering there, including many who have been displaced multiple time fleeing the violence in the north, and now they are exposed and they need to be protected.

“We've also been clear from the start, we oppose any forced displacement of Palestinians from Gaza,” Biden said.

The US president said many of the over 27,000 Palestinians killed in this conflict are innocent civilians and thousands of children, noting that hundreds of thousands have no access to food, water or other basic services.

“Many families have lost not just one but many relatives; cannot mourn for them, or even bury them, because it is not safe to do so,” the president continued.

The United States is working on a hostage deal between Israel and Hamas, which would bring an immediate and sustained period of cease-fire to Gaza for at least six weeks, which could then lead to build something more enduring with a two-state solution for two peoples, the president added.

“We're working to create the conditions for lasting peace,” President Biden said, noting that the discussions with His Majesty addressed efforts to guarantee Israeli security as well as ensure that Palestinian aspirations for their own state fulfilled.

“That's the only path that guarantees Israel security for the long term. To achieve it, the Palestinians must also seize the opportunity,” he said, noting that “not only do we pray for peace, we're actively working for peace, security, and dignity for both the Palestinian people and the Israelis.”

The US president said his discussions with the King also covered “how to get more humanitarian aid into Gaza”, adding that “from the very beginning, my team and I have relentlessly worked to get more aid” into the Strip.

President Biden said that he has spoken repeatedly of partners across the region, including the King, to facilitate the flow of aid into Gaza as much as possible and get to the people in need, pointing to efforts to open Rafah crossing and to open other routes as well.

He lauded His Majesty’s efforts to support the humanitarian response in Gaza and facilitate the delivery of vital medical supplied, adding that Jordan’s leadership and humanitarian commitment are commendable.

“We've known each other for many years and His Majesty has been a good friend all those years, a steadfast partner, alongside the Queen and a beloved leader to their people. The partnership between the United States and our ally Jordan is strong and it is enduring,” President Biden said.

“I'm grateful to him for his friendship, including his and Jordan’s unique role as custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem.,” the president added.

“We're grateful to our partners and allies like the King who will work with us every single day to advance security stability across the region and beyond. It's difficult times like these where the bond between nations are more important than ever, and Jill and I are pleased to welcome him and the Queen and the Crown Prince to the White House today,” President Biden concluded.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, Director of the Office of His Majesty Jafar Hassan, and Jordan’s Ambassador in Washington, DC, Dina Kawar, as well as a number of senior US officials attended the meeting.

Earlier, Their Majesties King Abdullah II and Queen Rania Al Abdullah II and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II had been received by President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden upon arrival at the White House.

Her Majesty Queen Rania also met with First Lady Jill Biden at the White House on the sidelines of the visit.