Jordan dismisses talk about Arab region's role in postwar Gaza plans

Day-after scenarios were focus of Antony Blinken's recent Middle East tour, diplomats say

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken onboard the plane during his visit to Israel as he departs en route to Jordan on Nov.  3, 2023. AP
Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest news on Israel-Gaza

Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Al Safadi has dismissed the possibility of Arab players becoming involved in running Gaza after the war, contradicting US preparations to fill a potential vacuum if Hamas is wiped out.

Mr Al Safadi said that day-after scenarios for Gaza amount to “jumping in the air”.

“This is not going to be discussed except after the war and the killing are stopped,” he told reporters late on Wednesday.

Jordan is dependent on US aid and has a peace treaty with Israel. It has taken a tough line against Israel since the war began in October 7, recalling its ambassador in Tel Aviv and demanding an end to what officials have described as Israeli war crimes.

On a tour of the region last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed Gaza postwar scenarios with Arab allies in Amman and Ramallah, according to diplomats and Middle East officials.

Among them is a role for the Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, to administer Gaza once Hamas is defeated, they said.

Gaza, where 2.3 million Palestinians live, has been ruled by Hamas since the group took control of the area after defeating Mr Abbas's loyalists in a 2006-07 civil war.

The Palestinian militant group has links to the Muslim Brotherhood and is supported by Iran.

Mr Al Safadi said the Palestinian Authority would “not go to Gaza on top of the tanks of the [Israeli] occupation [forces]”, nor would “Arab or non-Arab forces” help to administer a postwar Gaza.

Jordan expelled the leadership of Hamas in 1999 but it has maintained communication channels with the group.

When asked about the Israeli goal of destroying Hamas, Mr Safadi referred to Hamas as “an idea”.

“An idea does not end,” Mr Al Safadi said. “Whoever wants to change the situation has to fulfil the needs and rights of the Palestinian people, with a comprehensive peace.”

Hamas triggered the war by killing 1,400 people and abducting 240 in southern Israel in a single day. The Israeli retaliation has killed more than 10,000 people in Gaza, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

Amman is a second home to Mr Abbas, who is secular, and other officials in the Palestinian Authority.

Jordanian officials have joined him in calling for the relaunch of comprehensive Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, which have been dormant for a decade.

While on a visit to Brussels on Monday, Jordan’s King Abdullah II called for work to start on a “postwar stage”, on the basis of a two-state solution, which has been an elusive international goal for decades.

A large proportion of Jordan's 10 million population are descendants of Palestinian refugees. They fled to Jordan during the creation of Israel in 1948 and again when Israel expanded during the 1967 Middle East War.

Authorities in Amman have long warned that Israeli pressure on the Palestinians could lead to another forced population transfer to Jordan, where living conditions are strained.

Per capital income is about $4,200, according to the World Bank, unemployment is officially at 22 per cent to 23 per cent and the economy has been stagnant for more than a decade.

Postwar scenarios “that deal solely with Gaza are rejected in Jordan”, Mr Al Safadi said.

“This will consolidate Israel's goal of separating Gaza from the [occupied] West Bank,” he said, warning of another Israeli drive “to uproot the Palestinian people … towards the kingdom.”

Jordan will counter such scenario “with all [its] power”, Mr Al Safadi said, pointing out that expulsion was not accepted by Washington.

Updated: November 09, 2023, 6:17 AM