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President Biden hosts King Abdullah II to address Gaza crisis and military threats in Rafah
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President Biden hosts King Abdullah II to address Gaza crisis and military threats in Rafah

United States: The ongoing campaign to liberate captives held in Gaza and mounting concerns over a potential Israeli military attack in the port city of Rafah are expected topics of conversation between President Joe Biden and King Abdullah II of Jordan, who is being hosted in Washington on Monday. 

This is the first since the death of three American troops following a drone strike on a US military base in Jordan last month. Biden blamed the Iran-backed militias for the casualties, which were the first fatalities for the US since the months of the strikes by the Iran-backed groups against American troops across the Middle East since the Israel-Hamas war started. 

King Abdullah II’s meeting with Biden and his team marks their efforts to negotiate a fresh truce of Israel against Hamas to send humanitarian aid and equipment and make evacuations. The US White House is being criticized by Arab Americans for the administration’s support of Israel, which is being blamed for the escalating number of dead in Gaza. 

Progress in Cease-Fire Negotiations 

Negotiations looked like a deal for another cease-fire was about to be made. A senior U.S. administration official said on Sunday that, after weeks of shuttle diplomacy and phone conversations, a framework was effectively established for a deal that could see the release of the remaining hostages, held by Hamas in Gaza, in exchange for an end to the fighting. 

The official source who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the negotiations said that the gaps still exist, but he did not reveal what they are. According to an official, recent Israeli military pressure on Hamas in Khan Younus has facilitated Hamas’s potential agreement. The prospects of a deal dominated the conversation between President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when the two met in a phone call on Sunday. 

Biden’s Stance on Israeli Military Operations and Humanitarian Concerns 

Visual Representation – President Joe Biden Israel’s military responce in Gaza. Credit | REUTERS

The official claimed that there was a substantial back and forth between the two leaders over the possible extension of Israeli military operations into Rafah, with Biden restating U.S. opposition to the idea given the “current conditions” in which over 1.3 million people are seeking sanctuary in the area. 

Regarding the potential operation, it was the president’s most vital wording to date. In addition to calling Israel’s military response in Gaza “over the top” last week, Biden urged for “urgent and specific” actions to bolster humanitarian supplies. According to Channel 13 television in Israel, the talk lasted for forty-five minutes. 

Not considering the Well-being of the civilian population, the Israelis “made clear they would not contemplate an operation,” according to the officials. They also added that the U.S. is not sure if there’s a safe way to resettle civilians out of Rafah and to allow military operations to take place.

Jordan and Arab States’ Criticism of Israel’s Actions 

Jordan and other Arab states have been strongly critical of Israel’s actions and have stayed away from the public advocacy for longer-term planning regarding what comes next. They say that the fighting must stop first, after which such discussions can be held. They have been demanding a cease-fire since the middle of October when the civilian casualties started to explode. 

Biden was scheduled to visit Jordan during his trip to Israel in October 2021 after the October 7 Hamas attack, but the trip was canceled. On returning from Israel, Biden stated he had facilitated the first cease-fire and an agreement to open the Rafah crossing for humanitarian aid. 

Members of his administration have visited the area several times in the months since in order to interact with local leaders. 

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