World powers must stand up to 'extremist' Israel, Jordan says

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi says Gaza war threatens security of entire Middle East

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken travels aboard a plane during his week-long trip across the Middle East, on January 10, 2024. AFP
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The Middle East has fallen “hostage” to an “extremist” Israeli government and the only way out is to resume peace talks for an independent Palestinian state after ending the war in Gaza, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on Tuesday.

Mr Safadi repeated Amman's calls for a comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as the US and Israel discuss postwar scenarios for Gaza, after more than three months of Israeli bombardment of the enclave prompted by a surprise attack on southern Israel by Hamas on October 7.

“We all need to make progress according to a defined timetable and with enough guarantees to reach the goal of peace based on a two state solution,” Mr Safadi said after meeting Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong.

“Without that, the region will remain hostage to the struggle and to an extremist Israeli agenda, which will take us to more struggles.”

Jordan, along with Egypt, were the first Arab countries with a peace treaty with Israel. The kingdom also has security co-operation with Israel and a defence pact with the US.

Support for Gaza runs particularly high in the kingdom, partly because a large part of its population are descendants of Palestinians who fled the creation of Israel in 1948, and Israel's expansion in the 1967 Middle East War.

Ten days ago, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Palestinians should be in charge of Gaza after the war but did not rule out presence of Israeli troops.

On a visit to the Middle East last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington wants to see the integration of Israel in the region after the war, “with security assurances and commitments from regional countries”, and “a Palestinian state – at least a pathway to get to that state”.

Mr Blinken's trip included meetings with the leaders of Jordan, Egypt and Israel.

Israel pulled out from Gaza in 2005, two years before Hamas took control of the area from the Fatah faction of President Mahmoud Abbas in a Palestinian civil war.

The war between Israel and Hamas, which is supported by Iran, started on October 7, when Hamas and other militant groups killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in an attack on southern Israel.

They also took more than 240 Israelis hostage.

The subsequent Israeli offensive on the enclave has killed more than 24,200 people, according to Gazan health officials, who have given no estimate for the number of combatants killed.

On Monday, Mr Safadi said that any plans for a postwar phase must be based “on rejection of any security role for Israel in Gaza or any Israeli presence” in the area.

He said that any “approaches” to shape the future of Gaza must be preceded by international pressure to stop Israel's attacks on the enclave.

“This war is threatening the security of the whole region. It is time to stop it,” Mr Safadi said after meeting Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis in Amman

“Any vision for the future must aim at a comprehensive solution,” he said.

Updated: January 16, 2024, 4:42 PM