Oct 13, 2023 - World

Jordan warns U.S. Israel could forcibly displace Palestinians to neighboring nations

Jordanian King Abdullah II

Jordanian King Abdullah II. Photo:

Jordianian King Abdullah II warned Secretary of State Tony Blinken in their meeting in Amman on Friday against any Israeli attempt to "forcibly displace Palestinians from all Palestinian Territories or cause their internal displacement," the Hashemite court said in a statement.

Why it matters: The King's harsh statement underscores Jordan's anxiety about the war in Gaza and concern that escalating tension in the occupied West Bank could lead to a flow of Palestinian refugees to Jordan.

  • The majority of Jordan's population is Palestinian. There have been in recent days mass protests in Jordan in favor of Hamas and the people of Gaza.

Flashback: During the 1948 war between Israel and several Arab countries, hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees either fled or were forcibly displaced by the Israeli military.

  • A second, but smaller wave, of Palestinian refugees fled the West Bank during the 1967 war between Israel and the Arab countries.
  • Most of the Palestinian refugees in these two waves ended up in Jordan and some still live in refugee camps there.

Driving the news: Several hours before the meeting between Blinken and King Abdullah, Israel notified the UN that the approximately 1.1 million Palestinians living north of Wadi Gaza should evacuate to the southern part of the Gaza Strip within 24 hours.

  • The Jordanian military on Friday placed roadblocks on the main roads leading to Israel and dispersed several hundred Jordanians who tried to reach the border.

What they're saying: "His Majesty King Abdullah II warns against any attempt to forcibly displace Palestinians from all Palestinian Territories or cause their internal displacement, calling for preventing a spillover of the crisis into neighboring countries and the exacerbation of the refugee issue", the Hashemite court said in the statement.

  • The State Department said Blinken discussed with the king the efforts to secure the release of hostages and prevent the conflict from widening. They also discussed ways to address the humanitarian needs of civilians in Gaza "while Israel conducts legitimate security operations to defend itself from terrorism,"

State of play: Later on Friday, Blinken met in Amman with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who also warned against the forced displacement of Palestinians from Gaza.

  • "This will be a second Nakba," Abbas said in a statement, referring to the "catastrophe," which marks the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the events that led to Israel's founding in 1948.
  • Abbas said in a statement he warned Blinken of a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza due to the halting of most civilian services including electricity.
  • The State Department said Blinken extended his condolences to the families of Palestinian civilian victims of this conflict and reiterated that "Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people's legitimate right to dignity, freedom, justice, and self-determination."
  • Blinken thanked Abbas and his team for their work to further calm the situation in the West Bank while the fighting in Gaza is ongoing, the State Department said.

Between the lines: The Biden administration pressed Abbas in recent days to condemn Hamas' killing of Israeli civilians, which he hasn't done so far.

  • In the meeting, Abbas told Blinken he is against "the killing of civilians from both sides" and called for the release of Israeli civilians who are held hostage in Gaza and Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

Go deeper: Hamas-Israel war: Latest major updates

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