May 27, 2024

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Biden is ignored by his allies in the Middle East while the Arab world is boiling over a hospital explosion in Gaza

Biden is ignored by his allies in the Middle East while the Arab world is boiling over a hospital explosion in Gaza

Editor’s note: A version of this story appears in CNN’s Middle East newsletter, a three-times-week look at the biggest stories in the region. Register here.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Some of the United States’ closest Arab allies gave it to President Joe Biden Cold shoulder As he and his diplomats moved across the Middle East trying to prevent the war between Israel and Hamas from escalating into a broader regional conflagration.

Jordan, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority canceled a scheduled meeting with Biden less than 24 hours before they were scheduled to meet at a four-way summit in the Jordanian capital, Amman, on Wednesday. Cancellation followed Huge explosion In the National Baptist Hospital in Gaza, which led to the killing of hundreds of Palestinians. Palestinian officials blamed Israel for the hospital explosion, while Israeli officials said it was caused by a missile mistakenly launched by Islamic Jihad.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi: “The summit will not be able to stop the war, and this is what we want.” told Al Jazeera Early Wednesday, the hospital explosion was described as a war crime. He added: “So we decided not to hold it.”

Biden I arrived in Tel Aviv On Wednesday, he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of the Israeli war cabinet. The president pledged to continue supporting Israel and told Netanyahu that the hospital explosion “looks like it happened.” By the other team Not you.” The National Security Council said on Wednesday that the government currently believes Israel “is not responsible” for the explosion.

CNN was unable to independently verify the cause of the explosion, nor the size of the casualties.

Arab leaders appear to be concerned about Washington’s almost complete support for Israel in the war and are trying to distance themselves from the Biden administration. Anger is growing in the Arab street Against the Jewish state. At least 3,478 people have been killed in Gaza since the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, which killed at least 1,400 people in the country.

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After news of the hospital explosion spread on Tuesday, anti-Israel protests broke out in Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Iran, Turkey, and in Ramallah in the West Bank.

Arab leaders are also likely to be concerned about the escalation of protests at home as images of dead Palestinians flood with round-the-clock coverage of the Gaza war on almost every Arab news channel. Jordan is particularly vulnerable to protests because a large percentage of its population claims Palestinian origin.

Egypt on Wednesday Three days of mourning were declared For the victims of Gaza Hospital.

“What we saw from Biden, we probably haven’t seen from any previous American president, in terms of emotional connection to Israel,” said Abdul Khaleq Abdullah, a commentator from the United Arab Emirates attuned to official thinking. He said that Arab countries were “deeply shocked” by Biden’s unwillingness to criticize Israel or stop the bloodshed.

“The feeling now is that he is a full accomplice in this crime committed against the Palestinians,” he told CNN, adding that Arab countries are “now trying to distance themselves, not meet him, and neglect him.”

Egypt and Jordan, both of which border Israel and the Palestinian territories, have notably opposed a US plan to create a safe corridor for Palestinians fleeing Gaza in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, which borders Gaza.

Jordanian King Abdullah warned on Tuesday that the exodus of Palestinians to Jordan and Egypt is a “red line,” and said that Jordan and Egypt will not accept refugees from Gaza. He said any suggestion that the two countries take in fleeing Gazans is a plan “by the usual suspects to try to create fait accompli issues on the ground,” suggesting that refugees may not be allowed to return home.

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The American proposal was met with anger in the Arab world, with the media saying that it was in Israel’s interest to evacuate the Gaza Strip of Palestinians and even reoccupy it, leaving the Palestinians homeless again with no prospects for return. . Israel ruled the Gaza Strip from 1967 to 2005, and settled Jews there during that period.

Egyptian newspapers denounced the idea of ​​expelling Palestinians from their homes, saying that would be a repeat of the 1948 Nakba, when nearly 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War that led the country. To the creation of Israel. Most Gazans are already refugees whose ancestors came from areas that are now part of Israel.

In a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi spoke out against the possibility of transferring Palestinians to Sinai with charged words, saying that Israel, not Egypt, should be receiving the refugees.

“If there is an idea of ​​​​expelling (the residents of Gaza), there is the Negev desert in Israel, where the Palestinians can be transferred until Israel ends its declared operation to liquidate the resistance or armed groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.” Al-Sisi said in the sector.

He warned that the presence of Gazans in Sinai could turn the peninsula into a base for anti-Israel militancy, which could prompt Israel to strike Egypt.

No Arab leader wants to be seen as facilitating the evacuation of Gaza, said Timothy Kaldas, deputy director of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington, D.C.

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He said that Sisi “is working hard to create distance between himself and his Western partners on this issue, to isolate himself from what could turn into a lot of public criticism and anger.”

Sisi’s statements came a day after his Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, made a statement CNN’s Christiane Amanpour Just as Europe and the United States are “sensitive” to the idea of ​​an influx of refugees, so is Egypt.

“Why is Egypt supposed to allow the influx of one or two million people?” Shukri told CNN on Tuesday, adding that the country is already hosting nine million refugees. He said he did not understand the purpose of transferring the Palestinians, adding that it may have been “deliberate.”

Kaldas said that Western governments that fraternized with Arab autocrats often see a benefit in their ability to ignore public opinion. He added that that may not be true, especially now.

“The reality is that even authoritarian regimes have populations with opinions, emotions and dividing points,” Caldas said. “This is definitely something that has pretty much angered everyone in Egypt.”

CNN’s Akanksha Sharma, Hamdi Al-Khashali, DJ Good, Iyad Kurdi, Tim Lister, Chloe Liu, Ben Weidman, Celine Al-Khalidi and Abeer Salman contributed to this report.