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Arab leaders express anger over Gaza war at Cairo summit

By SAMY MAGDY (Associated Press)

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt and Jordan harshly criticized Israel for its actions in Gaza at a summit Saturday, a sign that the two Western allies who made peace with Israel decades ago are losing patience with their two-week war against Hamas.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who hosted the summit, again rejected any talk of driving the 2.3 million Palestinians from Gaza to the Sinai Peninsula and warned against “liquidating the cause Palestinian”. Jordan’s King Abdullah II has called Israel’s siege and bombardment of Gaza a “war crime.”

The speeches reflect growing anger in the region, even among those with close ties to Israel and who have often worked as mediators, as the war sparked by a massive Hamas attack enters its third week with rising casualties. and with no end in sight.

Egypt is particularly concerned about the massive influx of Palestinians into its territory, which it believes could, among other things, seriously undermine hopes for a Palestinian state. Vague remarks by some Israeli politicians and military officials suggesting that people leave Gaza have alarmed Israel’s neighbors, as have Israeli orders for Palestinian civilians to evacuate south to Egypt.

In his opening speech, el-Sissi said Egypt vehemently rejected “the forced displacement of Palestinians and their transfer to the Egyptian lands of Sinai.”

“I want to tell the world clearly and unequivocally that the liquidation of the Palestinian cause without a just solution is beyond the realm of possibility and that under no circumstances will it ever be done at the expense of Egypt, absolutely not,” did he declare. said.

The King of Jordan delivered the same message, expressing his “unequivocal rejection” of any displacement of Palestinians. Jordan already hosts the largest number of Palestinians displaced during previous Middle East wars.

“This is a war crime under international law and a red line for all of us,” he said at the summit.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the Palestinian Authority, a government with semi-autonomous control in the occupied West Bank, called on Israel to end its “barbaric aggression” in Gaza. He also warned against attempts to drive Palestinians from coastal territory.

“We will not leave, we will not leave, we will not leave and we will stay on our land,” he said at the summit.

Israel says it is determined to destroy Hamas’ leaders in Gaza, but has said little about the end goal.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Friday outlined a three-step plan in which airstrikes and “maneuvers” – an alleged reference to a ground attack – would aim to eradicate Hamas before a period of operations cleaning of lesser intensity. Then, a new “security regime” would be created in Gaza, alongside “removing Israel’s responsibility for life in the Gaza Strip,” Gallant said.

He did not specify who would rule Gaza after Hamas.

Meanwhile, Israel has ordered more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians to evacuate from north to south the territory it has completely sealed off, pushing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians toward the Egyptian border. .

Amos Gilad, a former Israeli defense official, said Israel’s ambiguity on the issue was endangering its crucial ties with Egypt. “I think a peace treaty with Egypt is extremely important, extremely crucial for the national security of Israel and Egypt and for the whole structure of world peace,” he said. -he declares.

Gilad said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should speak directly with Egyptian and Jordanian leaders and publicly declare that Palestinians would not enter their countries.

Two senior Egyptian officials said relations with Israel had reached a boiling point.

They said Egypt had expressed frustration over Israeli comments on population displacement in the United States, which negotiated the Camp David Accords in the 1970s. The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to inform the media.

Egypt fears a mass exodus could bring militants into Sinai, where they could launch attacks on Israel, endangering the peace treaty.

Arab countries also fear a repeat of the mass exodus of Palestinians from what is now Israel before and during the 1948 war that surrounded its creation, when some 700,000 people fled or were driven out, an event that the Palestinians call it the Nakba, or catastrophe. These refugees and their descendants, who now number nearly 6 million, have never been allowed to return home.

At Saturday’s rally, anger extended beyond fears of mass displacement.

Both leaders condemned the Israeli air campaign in Gaza, which has killed more than 4,300 Palestinians, including many civilians, according to Gaza health authorities. Israel says it only strikes Hamas targets and respects international law.

The war was sparked by a large Hamas incursion into southern Israel on October 7, in which more than 1,400 people were killed, the vast majority civilians.

Abdullah, who is among the region’s closest Western allies, accused Israel of “collective punishment of a besieged and powerless people.”

“This is a blatant violation of international humanitarian law. This is a war crime,” he said.

He then accused the international community of ignoring Palestinian suffering, saying it had sent a “strong and clear message” to the Arab world that “Palestinian lives matter less than Israeli lives.”

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Associated Press writer Julia Frankel in Jerusalem contributed.


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