Palestinian protesters participate during a demonstration to show their solidarity amid Israel-Gaza fighting, at Jerusalem's Old City, May 18, 2021.
Palestinian protesters participate during a demonstration to show their solidarity amid Israel-Gaza fighting, at Jerusalem's Old City, May 18, 2021.

AMMAN, JORDAN - Jordan’s Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh says his country may expel the Israeli ambassador after parliament issued the call due to escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians.  King Abdullah II is conducting intense diplomacy to try to stop the dangerous escalation amid concerns, observers suggest, should the crisis prompt another wave of Palestinian refugees into Jordan. In talks with his Jordanian counterpart, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that “both Israelis and Palestinians equally deserve to live in safety and security.”

A view shows the remains of a building after it was destroyed in Israeli air strikes, amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, in Gaza City May 18, 2021.
Israeli-Palestinian Cross-Border Attacks Continue as Diplomatic Efforts Intensify
An Israeli attack leveled a six-story building that housed bookstores and educational centers; and two Thai workers at an Israeli packaging plant are killed

Jordan has a 1994 peace treaty with Israel and for years, it has also been the chief supporter of Palestinian statehood. Public anger in the country, where Palestinian refugees and their descendants make up more than half of its 10 million population, is now boiling over. Large, angry demonstrations here demand an end to forced evictions of Palestinian families in Jerusalem and deadly bombardment in Gaza.    

A Palestinian woman reacts near the rubble of a building housing The Associated Press, broadcaster Al-Jazeera and other media outlet, in Gaza City.
Hamas-Israel Confrontation Sees Notable Differences from Past Fights
Unrelenting Israeli airstrikes have killed scores of Palestinians, including at least 60 children, in the Gaza Strip since May 10. Israeli casualties have been much smaller — ten people, including a six-year-old boy

Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, says King Abdullah is correct when he has repeatedly warned that the lack of a just solution to the Palestinian problem "would lead to the explosion of the situation in the region."  

“King Abdullah’s been saying for 20 years that failure to address the root cause of the Israel-Palestinian, Israeli-Arab conflict will sooner or later result in explosions as we’ve seen," Riedel said. "The Jordanian position has always been that the world community, and the United States in particular, put pressure on Israel to create a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem to represent the homeland for the Palestinian people.”    

Israeli soldiers work at an artillery unit as it fires near the border between Israel and the Gaza strip.
Israeli Airstrikes Pummel Gaza as Violence Enters 2nd Week
Since fighting began on May 10, at least 197 Palestinians have been killed, including at least 58 children and 34 women; at least 10 Israelis have been killed including a six-year-old

Jordanian officials have expressed concerns about any spillover of violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories that could lead to another mass migration of Palestinians into Jordan after the 1948 and 1967 refugee waves, although Riedel doesn’t necessarily see this happening. What’s more worrisome is violence between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs.  

“They also do fear refugee flows from Palestine. On the other hand, two previous intifadas in the West Bank in 1988, in 2000 did not produce significant flows of refugees," Riedel said. "It’s a concern but not an inevitability by any means. What’s particularly dangerous about this situation and largely unprecedented is the we see these mobs and vigilantes on both sides, but especially the Israeli side attacking Israeli Arabs. The social contract between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs is coming apart. That augurs very poorly for the future of Israel.”  

Israeli police scuffle with protesters in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, east Jerusalem, May 15, 2021. Tensions began there earlier this month, when Palestinians protested attempts by settlers to forcibly evict Palestinian families from their homes.

Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab, writing in a Los Angeles Times op-ed piece, urged Israel and the Palestinians—including Hamas—to talk. “At this point, the idea of deterring conflict has become elusive because of the absence of a serious negotiation process,” he said.

“Short of surrender, no conflict in the world can be solved by military means. Any resolution depends on negotiations — and naturally that means talking with your enemies, not your friends,” Kuttab said.   

With diplomatic efforts so far unable to stop the violence, the top US military officer, Army General Mark Milley, warned that the violence could “risk broader destabilization.” 

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