US ambassador in Jordan promotes aid for Gaza amid unofficial boycott of American goods

Yael Lempert appears on video with US personnel loading a plane at Jordan's Marka airport with 25 tonnes of medicine and food

Yael Lempert, US Ambassador to Jordan in May 2023. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest news on Israel-Gaza

The American ambassador to Jordan has engaged in public diplomacy to promote a new aid shipment to Gaza as anti-US sentiment appears to be rising in the kingdom in response to Washington's support for Israel's operation against Hamas.

In a video statement late on Tuesday, made at Amman's Marka airport, Yael Lempert speaks in front of a US C-17 Globemaster transport plane and talks to US personnel loading it with 25 tonnes of medicine and food for Gaza.

The US team “has been working day and night” to load the supplies, she says, adding that Washington is “working hard with our partners to accelerate and increase this flow”.

“As we have made it clear, humanitarian assistance is critical and urgently needed in Gaza,” Ms Lempert adds.

The US has allocated $1 billion in the last three years, the diplomat says, to fund The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the main organisation caring for Palestinians in Gaza.

In recent weeks, while Israeli bombing of Gaza intensified, many Jordanians have boycotted American and European goods.

American chains in Amman, such as Macdonald’s and Starbucks, which used to be full before the war, are now mostly empty.

Despite some boycotting American goods, the kingdom is a close ally of the US.

It has a defence pact with Washington and is one of the top three recipients of US aid, alongside Egypt and Israel.

The kingdom also has a peace treaty with Israel, which was brokered by the US in 1994, although the Jordanian Parliament voted to review the treaty this month amid rising anger over Israel's war in Gaza.

Parliament has no say over foreign policy in Jordan, where all significant powers are with the king.

Almost two weeks earlier, Jordan recalled its ambassador in Israel to protest against “the Israeli war that is killing innocent people in Gaza”, the Foreign Ministry said.

The country's mostly government-controlled media has been vehemently condemning Israel for its operation in Gaza, but have largely shied away from directly criticising Washington.

Ms Lempert made her appearance as the Pentagon announced that the military had airlifted 25 tonnes of aid to Al Arish airport in Egypt to be transported by lorry and distributed by UN agencies in Gaza.

Pentagon Press Secretary Brig Gen Pat Ryder said more flights are expected in the coming days.

Washington has been the largest contributor to the international aid operation for Gaza out of Egypt, he said, citing 113 tonnes of food aid delivered to Al Arish last week.

Despite historically strong US support for Israel, the United States has been the largest contributor for UNRWA since it was set up in the late-1940s, including $100 million announced by President Joe Biden at the start of the Israel-Gaza war.

After weeks of Israeli bombardment in Gaza, a pause was reached last week.

It has allowed release of some Israeli hostages and Palestinians detainees, as well as increased international aid flow to the besieged enclave.

Updated: November 30, 2023, 4:12 AM