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Biden hosts Jordan’s King Abdullah for White House talks


King Abdullah II of Jordan, second from left, departs the West Wing of the White House following a lunch meeting with President Joe Biden on May 6, 2024, in Washington.
King Abdullah II of Jordan, second from left, departs the West Wing of the White House following a lunch meeting with President Joe Biden on May 6, 2024, in Washington.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Monday urged President Joe Biden to “take urgent action to prevent a new catastrophe” as Israel prepares a ground operation on the Gaza city of Rafah.

The two leaders met privately over lunch at the White House as tensions rose in the Palestinian exclave under the shadow of a threatened Israeli ground assault. Hamas accepted a deal to end the fighting, but Israel had concerns, dashing hopes that the conflict would end before it hits the seven-month mark, on Tuesday.

Enter the Oxford-educated king, whose domain of 11 million people holds 2.3 million Palestinian refugees, according to the United Nations. There are even more Jordanians of Palestinian descent in the Hashemite Kingdom, including its queen, Rania.

Abdullah, according to a statement from the The Royal Hashemite Court, “warned that the Israeli attack on Rafah, where 1.4 million Palestinians are internally displaced as a result of the war on Gaza threatens to lead to a new massacre. The King warned of the repercussions of the Israeli ground offensive on Rafah, which could cause a regional spillover of the conflict. His Majesty stressed the importance of all efforts that seek an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.”

White House spokesman John Kirby offered fewer details, saying only that the two leaders “spoke about the situation in Gaza, of course, including efforts to secure the hostage deal and to get more humanitarian assistance in to the civilians of Gaza.”

In a readout issued late Monday, the White House said the two leaders “affirmed their commitment to work together towards an enduring end to the crisis. They further underscored the need for an immediate release of the hostages held by Hamas and a sustainable ceasefire that allows for a surge of the urgently needed humanitarian assistance to be delivered safely through Gaza. Both remain committed to achieving a durable, lasting peace to include a pathway to a Palestinian state, with security guarantees for Israel.”

Abdullah met last week with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Amman, where they discussed efforts to reach a cease-fire in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, as well as Jordanian efforts to get more humanitarian aid into Gaza and to find long-term peace in the region with a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Biden and Abdullah covered similar ground in a February meeting at the White House.

Nearly a month ago, Biden and Abdullah consulted by telephone following Iran’s massive aerial attack targeting Israel, which the White House said, “also threatened Jordan and the Jordanian people.”

The Israel-Hamas war was triggered by the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel that killed 1,200 people and led to the capture of about 250 hostages, according to Israeli officials. About 100 of the hostages were freed in a weeklong truce in late November.

Israel’s ensuing counteroffensive in Gaza has killed more than 34,600 Palestinians, about two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

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